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´╗┐Title: Personal Reminiscences in Book Making - and Some Short Stories
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Personal Reminiscences in Book Making - and Some Short Stories" ***

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Personal Reminiscences of Book Making, by R.M. Ballantyne
(1825-1894).

________________________________________________________________________

He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, and in 1841 he became a clerk
with the Hudson Bay Company, working at the Red River Settlement in
Northen Canada until 1847, arriving back in Edinburgh in 1848.  The
letters he had written home were very amusing in their description of
backwoods life, and his family publishing connections suggested that he
should construct a book based on these letters.  Three of his most
enduring books were written over the next decade, "The Young Fur
Traders", "Ungava", "The Hudson Bay Company", and were based on his
experiences with the H.B.C.  In this period he also wrote "The Coral
island" and "Martin Rattler", both of these taking place in places never
visited by Ballantyne.  Having been chided for small mistakes he made in
these books, he resolved always to visit the places he wrote about.
With these books he became known as a great master of literature
intended for teenagers.  He researched the Cornish Mines, the London
Fire Brigade, the Postal Service, the Railways, the laying down of
submarine telegraph cables, the construction of light-houses, the
light-ship service, the life-boat service, South Africa, Norway, the
North Sea fishing fleet, ballooning, deep-sea diving, Algiers, and many
more, experiencing the lives of the men and women in these settings by
living with them for weeks and months at a time, and he lived as they
lived.

He was a very true-to-life author, depicting the often squalid scenes he
encountered with great care and attention to detail.  His young readers
looked forward eagerly to his next books, and through the 1860s and
1870s there was a flow of books from his pen, sometimes four in a year,
all very good reading.  The rate of production diminished in the last
ten or fifteen years of his life, but the quality never failed.

He published over ninety books under his own name, and a few books for
very young children under the pseudonym "Comus".

For today's taste his books are perhaps a little too religious, and what
we would nowadays call "pi".  In part that was the way people wrote in
those days, but more important was the fact that in his days at the Red
River Settlement, in the wilds of Canada, he had been a little
dissolute, and he did not want his young readers to be unmindful of how
they ought to behave, as he felt he had been.

Some of his books were quite short, little over 100 pages.  These books
formed a series intended for the children of poorer parents, having less
pocket-money.  These books are particularly well-written and researched,
because he wanted that readership to get the very best possible for
their money.  They were published as six series, three books in each
series.

In this book of personal reminiscences, the author, hearing in the
distance the Grim Reaper, is at his most pi.  The first few chapters
describe the effort he had to make to gain the background information he
needed to write the books, but suddenly he tells us that he doesn't feel
at all well, that his time may well be near, and he fills out the book
with half-a- dozen short stories, all very moralist, but still well up
to his usual quality of output.

Re-created as an e-Text by Nick Hodson, August 2003.

________________________________________________________________________

PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF BOOK MAKING, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.



CHAPTER ONE.

INCIDENTS IN BOOK MAKING--INTRODUCTORY.

Book making is mixed up, more or less, with difficulties.  It is
sometimes disappointing; often amusing; occasionally lucrative;
frequently expensive, and always interesting--at least to the maker.

Of course I do not refer to that sort of book making which is connected
with the too prevalent and disgraceful practice of gambling, but to the
making of literary books--especially story-books for the young.

For over eight-and-thirty years I have had the pleasure of making such
books and of gathering the material for them in many and distant lands.

During that period a considerable number of the juvenile public have
accepted me as one of their guides in the world of Fiction, and through
many scenes in the wildest and most out-of-the-way regions of our
wonderful world.

Surely, then, it is not presumptuous in me to suppose--at least to
hope--that a rambling account of some of the curious incidents which
have occurred, now and then, in connection with my book making, will
interest the young people of the present day.  Indeed I entertain a hope
that some even of the old boys and girls who condescended to follow me
in the days gone by may perchance derive some amusement, if not profit,
from a perusal of these reminiscences.

The shadows of life are lengthening, and, for me, that night, "in which
no man can work," may not be far off.  Before it is too late, and while
yet the flame of the lamp burns with sufficient clearness, I would fain
have a personal chat with those for whom, by God's blessing, I have been
permitted to cater so long.

But fear not, dear reader, that I shall inflict on you a complete
autobiography.  It is only the great ones of the earth who are entitled
to claim attention to the record of birth and parentage and school-days,
etcetera.  To trace my ancestry back through "the Conquerors" to Adam,
would be presumptuous as well as impossible.  Nevertheless, for the sake
of aspirants to literary fame, it may be worth while to tell here how
one of the rank and file of the moderately successful Brotherhood was
led to Authorship as a profession and how he followed it out.

I say "led" advisedly, because I made no effort whatever to adopt this
line of life, and never even dreamed of it as a possibility until I was
over twenty-eight years of age.

Let me commence, then, by at once taking a header into the middle of
that period when God--all unknown to, and unrecognised by, myself--was
furnishing me with some of the material and weapons for the future
battle of life.

One day my dear father was reading in the newspapers some account of the
discoveries of Dease and Simpson in the neighbourhood of the famous
North-west Passage.  Looking at me over his spectacles with the
perplexed air of a man who has an idle son of sixteen to start in the
race of life, he said--

"How would you like to go into the service of the Hudson's Bay Company
and discover the North-west Passage?"--or words to that effect.

"All right, father," said I--or something of that sort.

I was at that age, and in that frame of mind, which regards difficulties
with consummate presumption and profound inexperience.  If the discovery
of the North-pole had been suggested, or the South-pole, or any other
terrestrial pole that happened to exist at the time, I was quite ready
to "rush in" where even a Franklin might "fear to tread!"

This incident was but a slight one, yet it was the little hinge on which
turned my future career.

We had a relation--I won't say what, because distant relationships,
especially if complicated, are utterly beyond my mental grasp--who was
high up in the service of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company.  Through Iain I
became a clerk in the service with a salary of 20 pounds for the first
year.  Having been born without a silver spoon in my mouth, I regarded
this as an adequate, though not a princely, provision.

In due time I found myself in the heart of that vast North American
wilderness which is variously known as Rupert's Land, the Territories of
the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Great Nor'west, many hundreds of miles
north of the outmost verge of Canadian civilisation.

I am not learned in the matter of statistics, but if a rough guess may
be allowed, I should say that the population of some of the regions in
which I and my few fellow-clerks vegetated might have been about fifty
to the hundred square miles--with uninhabited regions around.  Of course
we had no libraries, magazines, or newspapers out there.  Indeed we had
almost no books at all, only a stray file or two of American newspapers,
one of which made me acquainted with some of the works of Dickens and of
Lever.  While in those northern wilds I also met--as with dear old
friends--some stray copies of _Chambers's Edinburgh Journal_, and the
_Penny Magazine_.

We had a mail twice in the year--once by the Hudson's Bay ship in
summer, and once through the trackless wilderness by sledge and
snow-shoe in winter.  It will easily be understood that surroundings of
such a nature did not suggest or encourage a literary career.  My
comrades and I spent the greater part of our time in fur-trading with
the Red Indians; doing a little office-work, and in much canoeing,
boating, fishing, shooting, wishing, and skylarking.  It was a "jolly"
life, no doubt, while it lasted, but not elevating!

We did not drink.  Happily there was nothing alcoholic to be had out
there for love or money.  But we smoked, more or less consumedly,
morning, noon, and night.  Before breakfast the smoking began; after
supper it went on; far into the night it continued.  Some of us even
went to sleep with the pipes in our mouths and dropped them on our
pillows.  Being of such an immature age, I laboured under the not
uncommon delusion that to smoke looked manly, and therefore did my best
to accommodate myself to my surroundings, but I failed signally, having
been gifted with a blessed incapacity for tobacco-smoking.  This
afflicted me somewhat at the time, but ever since I have been
unmistakably thankful.

But this is wandering.  To return.

With a winter of eight months' duration and temperature sometimes at 50
below zero of Fahrenheit, little to do and nothing particular to think
of, time occasionally hung heavy on our hands.  With a view to lighten
it a little, I began to write long and elaborate letters to a loving
mother whom I had left behind me in Scotland.  The fact that these
letters could be despatched only twice in the year was immaterial.
Whenever I felt a touch of home-sickness, and at frequent intervals, I
got out my sheet of the largest-sized narrow-ruled imperial paper--I
think it was called "imperial"--and entered into spiritual intercourse
with "Home."  To this long-letter writing I attribute whatever small
amount of facility in composition I may have acquired.  Yet not the
faintest idea of story-writing crossed the clear sky of my unliterary
imagination.  I am not conscious of having had, at that time, a love for
writing in any form--very much the reverse!

Of course I passed through a highly romantic period of life--most youths
do so--and while in that condition I made a desperate attempt to tackle
a poem.  Most youths do that also!  The first two lines ran thus:--

  "Close by the shores of Hudson's Bay,
  Where Arctic winters--stern and grey--"

I must have gloated long over this couplet, for it was indelibly stamped
upon my memory, and is as fresh to-day as when the lines were penned.
This my first literary effort was carried to somewhere about the middle
of the first canto.  It stuck there--I am thankful to say--and, like the
smoking, never went further.

Rupert's Land, at that time, was little known and very seldom visited by
outsiders.  During several years I wandered to and fro in it, meeting
with a few savages, fewer white men--servants of the Company--and
becoming acquainted with modes of life and thought in what has been
aptly styled "The Great Lone Land."  Hearing so seldom from or of the
outside world, things pertaining to it grew dim and shadowy, and began
to lose interest.  In these circumstances, if it had not been that I
knew full well my mother's soul was ready to receive any amount of
out-pourings of which I was capable, I should have almost forgotten how
to use the pen.

It was in circumstances such as I have described that I began my first
book, but it was not a story-book, and I had no idea that it would ever
become a printed book at all.  It was merely a free-and-easy record of
personal adventure and every-day life, written, like all else that I
penned, solely for the uncritical eye of that long-suffering and too
indulgent mother!

I had reached the advanced age of twenty-two at the time, and had been
sent to take charge of an outpost, on the uninhabited northern shores of
the gulf of Saint Lawrence, named Seven Islands.  It was a dreary,
desolate, little-known spot, at that time.  The gulf, just opposite the
establishment, was about fifty miles broad.  The ships which passed up
and down it were invisible, not only on account of distance, but because
of seven islands at the mouth of the bay coming between them and the
outpost.  My next neighbour, in command of a similar post up the gulf,
was, if I remember rightly, about seventy miles distant.  The nearest
house down the gulf was about eighty miles off, and behind us lay the
virgin forests, with swamps, lakes, prairies, and mountains, stretching
away without break right across the continent to the Pacific Ocean.

The outpost--which, in virtue of a ship's carronade and a flagstaff, was
occasionally styled a "fort"--consisted of four wooden buildings.  One
of these--the largest, with a verandah--was the Residency.  There was an
offshoot in rear which served as a kitchen.  The other houses were a
store for goods wherewith to carry on trade with the Indians, a stable,
and a workshop.  The whole population of the establishment--indeed of
the surrounding district--consisted of myself and one man--also a horse!
The horse occupied the stable, I dwelt in the Residency, the rest of
the population lived in the kitchen.

There were, indeed, other five men belonging to the establishment, but
these did not affect its desolation, for they were away netting salmon
at a river about twenty miles distant at the time I write of.

My "Friday"--who was a French-Canadian--being cook, as well as
man-of-all-work, found a little occupation in attending to the duties of
his office, but the unfortunate Governor had nothing whatever to do
except await the arrival of Indians, who were not due at that time.  The
horse was a bad one, without a saddle, and in possession of a pronounced
backbone.  My "Friday" was not sociable.  I had no books, no newspapers,
no magazines or literature of any kind, no game to shoot, no boat
wherewith to prosecute fishing in the bay, and no prospect of seeing any
one to speak to for weeks, if not months, to come.  But I had pen and
ink, and, by great good fortune, was in possession of a blank paper book
fully an inch thick.

When, two or three years after, a printer-cousin, seeing the manuscript,
offered to print it, and the well-known Blackwood, of Edinburgh, seeing
the book, offered to publish it--and did publish it--my ambition was
still so absolutely asleep that I did not again put pen to paper in
_that_ way for eight years thereafter, although I might have been
encouraged thereto by the fact that this first book--named _Hudson's
Bay_--besides being a commercial success, received favourable notice
from the press.

It was not until the year 1854 that my literary path was opened up.  At
that time I was a partner in the late publishing firm of Thomas
Constable and Company of Edinburgh.  Happening one day to meet with the
late William Nelson, publisher, I was asked by him how I should like the
idea of taking to literature as a profession.  My answer I forget.  It
must have been vague, for I had never thought of the subject at all.

"Well," said he, "what would you think of trying to write a story?"

Somewhat amused, I replied that I did not know what to think, but I
would try if he wished me to do so.

"Do so," said he, "and go to work at once,"--or words to that effect.

I went to work at once, and wrote my first story, or work of fiction.
It was published in 1855 under the name of _Snowflakes and Sunbeams; or,
The Young Fur-traders_.  Afterwards the first part of the title was
dropped, and the book is now known as _The Young Fur-traders_.  From
that day to this I have lived by making story-books for young folk.

From what I have said it will be seen that I have never aimed at the
achieving of this position, and I hope that it is not presumptuous in me
to think--and to derive much comfort from the thought--that God led me
into the particular path along which I have walked for so many years.

The scene of my first story was naturally laid in those backwoods with
which I was familiar, and the story itself was founded on the adventures
and experiences of my companions and myself.  When a second book was
required of me, I stuck to the same regions, but changed the locality.
While casting about in my mind for a suitable subject, I happened to
meet with an old, retired "Nor'wester" who had spent an adventurous life
in Rupert's Land.  Among other duties he had been sent to establish an
outpost of the Hudson's Bay Company at Ungava Bay, one of the most
dreary parts of a desolate region.  On hearing what I wanted, he sat
down and wrote a long narrative of his proceedings there, which he
placed at my disposal, and thus furnished me with the foundation of
_Ungava, a tale of Eskimo-Land_.

But now I had reached the end of my tether, and when a third story was
wanted I was compelled to seek new fields of adventure in the books of
travellers.  Regarding the Southern seas as the most romantic part of
the world--after the backwoods!--I mentally and spiritually plunged into
those warm waters, and the dive resulted in _The Coral Island_.

It now began to be borne in upon me that there was something not quite
satisfactory in describing, expatiating on, and energising in, regions
which one has never seen.  For one thing, it was needful to be always
carefully on the watch to avoid falling into mistakes geographical,
topographical, natural-historical, and otherwise.

For instance, despite the utmost care of which I was capable, while
studying up for _The Coral Island_, I fell into a blunder through
ignorance in regard to a familiar fruit.  I was under the impression
that cocoa-nuts grew on their trees in the same form as that in which
they are usually presented to us in grocers' windows--namely, about the
size of a large fist with three spots, suggestive of a monkey's face, at
one end.  Learning from trustworthy books that at a certain stage of
development the nut contains a delicious beverage like lemonade, I sent
one of my heroes up a tree for a nut, through the shell of which he
bored a hole with a penknife and drank the "lemonade"!  It was not till
long after the story was published that my own brother--who had voyaged
in Southern seas--wrote to draw my attention to the fact that the
cocoa-nut is nearly as large as a man's head, and its outer husk over an
inch thick, so that no ordinary penknife could bore to its interior!  Of
course I should have known this, and, perhaps, should be ashamed of my
ignorance--but, somehow, I'm not!

I admit that this was a slip, but such, and other slips, hardly justify
the remark that some people have not hesitated to make, namely, that I
have a tendency to draw the long bow.  I feel almost sensitive on this
point, for I have always laboured to be true to fact, and to nature,
even in my wildest flights of fancy.

This reminds me of the remark made to myself once by a lady in reference
to this same _Coral Island_.  "There is one thing, Mr Ballantyne," she
said, "which I really find it hard to believe.  You make one of your
three boys dive into a clear pool, go to the bottom, and then, turning
on his back, look up and wink and laugh at the other two."

"No, no, Peterkin did not `_laugh_,'" said I remonstratively.

"Well, then, you make him smile."

"Ah, that is true, but there is a vast difference between laughing and
smiling under water.  But is it not singular that you should doubt the
only incident in the story which I personally verified?  I happened to
be in lodgings at the seaside while writing that story, and, after
penning the passage you refer to, I went down to the shore, pulled off
my clothes, dived to the bottom, turned on my back, and, looking up, I
smiled and winked."

The lady laughed, but I have never been quite sure, from the tone of
that laugh, whether it was a laugh of conviction or of unbelief.  It is
not improbable that my fair friend's mental constitution may have been
somewhat similar to that of the old woman who declined to believe her
sailor-grandson when he told her he had seen flying-fish, but at once
recognised his veracity when he said he had seen the remains of
Pharaoh's chariot-wheels on the shores of the Red Sea.

Recognising, then, the difficulties of my position, I formed the
resolution always to visit--when possible--the scenes in which my
stories were laid, converse with the people who, under modification,
were to form the _dramatis personae_ of the tales, and, generally, to
obtain information in each case, as far as lay in my power, from the
fountain-head.

Thus, when about to begin _The Lifeboat_, I went to Ramsgate, and, for
some time, was hand and glove with Jarman, the heroic coxswain of the
Ramsgate boat, a lion-like as well as lion-hearted man, who rescued
hundreds of lives from the fatal Goodwin Sands during his career.  In
like manner, when getting up information for _The Lighthouse_, I
obtained permission from the Commissioners of Northern Lights to visit
the Bell Rock Lighthouse, where I hobnobbed with the three keepers of
that celebrated pillar-in-the-sea for three weeks, and read Stevenson's
graphic account of the building of the structure in the library, or
visitor's room, just under the lantern.  I was absolutely a prisoner
there during those three weeks, for boats seldom visited the rock, and
it need scarcely be said that ships kept well out of our way.  By good
fortune there came on a pretty stiff gale at the time, and Stevenson's
thrilling narrative was read to the tune of whistling winds and roaring
seas, many of which sent the spray right up to the lantern and caused
the building, more than once, to quiver to its foundation.

In order to do justice to _Fighting the Flames_ I careered through the
streets of London on fire-engines, clad in a pea-jacket and a black
leather helmet of the Salvage Corps;--this, to enable me to pass the
cordon of police without question--though not without recognition, as
was made apparent to me on one occasion at a fire by a fireman
whispering confidentially, "I know what _you_ are, sir, you're a
hamitoor!"

"Right you are," said I, and moved away in order to change the subject.

It was a glorious experience, by the way, this galloping on fire-engines
through the crowded streets.  It had in it much of the excitement of the
chase--possibly that of war--with the noble end in view of saving,
instead of destroying, life!  Such tearing along at headlong speed; such
wild roaring of the firemen to clear the way; such frantic dashing aside
of cabs, carts, 'buses, and pedestrians; such reckless courage on the
part of the men, and volcanic spoutings on the part of the fires!  But I
must not linger.  The memory of it is too enticing.  _Deep Down_ took me
to Cornwall, where, over two hundred fathoms beneath the green turf, and
more than half-a-mile out under the bed of the sea, I saw the sturdy
miners at work winning copper and tin from the solid rock, and acquired
some knowledge of their life, sufferings, and toils.

In the land of the Vikings I shot ptarmigan, caught salmon, and gathered
material for _Erling the Bold_.  A winter in Algiers made me familiar
with the _Pirate City_.  I enjoyed a fortnight with the hearty
inhabitants of the Gull Lightship off the Goodwin Sands, from which
resulted _The Floating Light_; and went to the Cape of Good Hope, and up
into the interior of the Colony, to spy out the land and hold
intercourse with _The Settler and the Savage_--although I am bound to
confess that, with regard to the latter, I talked to him only with mine
eyes.  I also went afloat for a short time with the fishermen of the
North Sea, in order to be able to do justice to _The Young Trawler_.

To arrive still closer at the truth, and to avoid errors, I have always
endeavoured to submit my proof-sheets, when possible, to experts and men
who knew the subject well.  Thus, Captain Shaw, late Chief of the London
Fire Brigade, kindly read the proofs of _Fighting the Flames_, and
prevented my getting off the rails in matters of detail, and Sir Arthur
Blackwood, financial secretary to the General Post Office, obligingly
did me the same favour in regard to _Post Haste_.

In conclusion, there are some things that I shrink from flaunting in the
eyes of the public.  Personal religion is one of these.  Nevertheless,
there are a few words which I feel constrained to write before closing
this chapter.

During all the six years that I spent in Rupert's Land I was "without
God."  He was around me and within me, guarding me, bestowing upon me
the physical and mental health by which alone I could fully enjoy a life
in the wilderness, and furnishing me with much of the material that was
to serve as my stock-in-trade during my subsequent career; yet--I
confess it with shame--I did not recognise or think of, or care for,
Him.  It was not until after I had returned home that He opened my eyes
to see myself a lost soul, and Jesus Christ--"God with us"--an
all-sufficient Redeemer, able and willing to save me from sin, as He is
to save all sinners--even the chief.

More than this I will not say.  Less I could not say, without being
unfaithful to my Creator.



CHAPTER TWO.

LIFE IN THE BELL ROCK LIGHTHOUSE.

One of my most interesting experiences in hunting up materials for books
was at the Bell Rock Lighthouse; interesting because of the novelty of
the situation, the pleasant intercourse with the keepers, and the
grandeur of the subjects brought under my observation.

The lighthouses of this kingdom present, in their construction, a
remarkable evidence of the capacity of man to overcome almost
insurmountable difficulties, and his marvellous power of adapting means
to ends.  They also stand forth as a grand army of sentinels, who, with
unobtrusive regularity, open their brilliant eyes on the great deep,
night after night--from year to year--from age to age, and gaze--
Argus-like--all around our shores, to guard our shipping from the
dangers of the sea, perhaps I should rather say from the dangers of the
coast, for it must be well-known to most people that the sailor regards
"blue water" as his safe and native home, and that it is only when he
enters the green and shallow waters of the coast that a measure of
anxiety overclouds his free-and-easy spirit.

It is when he draws near to port that the chief dangers of his career
surround him, and it is then that the lighthouse is watched for
anxiously, and hailed with satisfaction.

These observations scarce need confirmatory proof.  Of all the vessels,
great and small, that annually seek and leave our ports, a large
proportion meet their doom, and, despite all our lighthouses, beacons,
and buoys, lay their timbers and cargoes in fragments, on our shores.
This is a significant fact, for if those lost ships be--as they are--a
mere fraction of our commerce, how great must be the fleet, how vast the
wealth, that our lighthouses guide safely into port every year?  If all
our coast-lights were to be extinguished for only a single night, the
loss of property and life would be terrible beyond conception.  But such
an event can never happen, for our coast-lights arise each evening at
sunset with the regularity of the sun himself.  Like the stars, they
burst out when darkness begins to brood upon land and sea like them,
too, their action and aspect are varied.  Some, at great heights, in
exposed places, blaze bright and steady like stars of the first
magnitude.  Others, in the form of revolving lights, twinkle like the
lesser stars--now veiling, now flashing forth their beams.

One set of lights shine ruby-red like Mars; another set are white, like
Venus; while those on our pier-heads and at our harbour mouths are
green; and, in one or two instances, if not more, they shine, (by means
of reflecting prisms), with borrowed light like the moon; but all--
whether revolving or fixed, large or small, red or white or green--beam
forth, like good angels, offering welcome and guidance to the mariner
approaching from beyond seas; with God-like impartiality shedding their
radiance on friend and foe, and encircling--as with a chaplet of living
diamonds, rubies, and emeralds--our highly favoured little islands of
the sea.

Lighthouses may be divided into _two_ classes, namely, those which stand
on cliffs, and elsewhere, somewhat above the influence of the waves, and
those built on outlying rocks which are barely visible at high tide, or
invisible altogether except at low-water.  The North and South Foreland
lights in Kent, the Girdleness in Aberdeenshire, and Inchkeith in the
Forth, are examples of the former.  The Eddystone, Bell Rock, and
Skerryvore, are well-known examples of the latter, also the Wolf Rock
off the Land's End.

In one of the latter--namely the Bell Rock--I obtained permission, a
good many years ago, from the Commissioners of Northern Lights, to spend
a fortnight for literary purposes--to be imprisoned, in fact, for that
period.

This lighthouse combines within itself more or less of the elements of
all lighthouses.  The principles on which it was built are much the same
with those of Skerryvore.  It is founded on a tidal rock, is exposed to
the full "fetch" and fury of an open sea, and it has stood for the
greater part of a century exposed to inconceivable and constantly
recurring violence of wind and wave--not, indeed, unshaken, but
altogether undamaged.

The Bell Rock lies on the east of Scotland, off the mouths of the Forth
and Tay, 12 miles from the Forfarshire coast, which is the nearest land.
Its foundation is always under water except for an hour or two at
low-tide.  At high tides there are about 12 or 16 feet of water above
the highest ledge of the Bell Rock, which consists of a series of
sandstone ridges.  These, at ordinary low-tides, are uncovered to the
extent of between 100 and 200 yards.  At neap tides the rock shows only
a few black teeth with sea-weed gums above the surface.

There is a boat which attends upon this lighthouse.  On the occasion of
my visit I left Arbroath in it one morning before daybreak and reached
the Rock about dawn.  We cast anchor on arriving--not being able to
land, for as yet there _was_ no land!  The lighthouse rose out of the
sea like a bulrush out of a pond!  No foundation rock was visible, and
the water played about the tower in a fashion that would have knocked
our boat to pieces had we ventured to approach the entrance-door.

In a short time the crest of the rock began to show above the foam.
There was little or no wind, but the ordinary swell of the calm ocean
rolled in upon these rocks, and burst upon them in such a way that the
tower seemed to rise out of a caldron of boiling milk.  At last we saw
the three keepers moving amid the surges.  They walked on an iron
platform, which, being light and open, and only a few feet above the
waves, was nearly invisible.

When the tide was near its lowest ebb, so that there was a piece of
smooth water under the lee of the rock, we hoisted out our little "twin"
boat.  This was a curious contrivance, being simply a small boat cut
across amidships, so as to form two parts which fitted into each other
like saucers, and were thus rendered small enough to be easily carried
in the larger boat.  When about to be used, the twins are put into the
water and their sterns brought together and screwed tight.  Thus one
little boat, sharp at each end, is formed.

Embarking in this we rowed between tangle-covered ridges up to the
wrought-iron landing-place.  The keepers looked surprised as we drew
near.  It was evident that visitors were not "common objects of the
shore" out there!

There were three keepers.  One, the chief, was very tall, dark, and
thin; of grave temperament and sedate mien.  Another was a florid,
hearty young fellow, full of fire and energy.  The third was a stout,
short, thick-set man, with placidity and good-humour enthroned on his
fat countenance.  He was a first-rate man.  I shall call him Stout; his
comrade, Young.  The chief may appropriately be named Long.

There was no time for more than a hurried introduction at first, for the
fresh water-casks and fortnightly allowance of fresh provisions had to
be hoisted into the tower, the empty casks got out, and the boat
reloaded and despatched, before the tide--already rising--should
transform the little harbour into a wild whirlpool.  In little more than
an hour the boat was gone, and I proceeded to make myself at home with
my new friends.

Probably every one knows that the Bell Rock is the Inch Cape Rock,
immortalised by Southey in his poem of "Sir Ralph the Rover," in which
he tells how that, in the olden time--

  "The Abbot of Aberbrothock
  Had placed a bell on the Inch Cape Rock.
  On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung
  And over the waves its warning rung."

A pirate named "Sir Ralph the Rover" came there one day and cut away the
bell in a wicked frolic.  Long years after, returning with a rich cargo
of ill-gotten wealth, retributive justice overtook Sir Ralph, caused his
vessel to strike on the Inch Cape Rock--for want of the warning bell
which he had cut away--and sent him and his belongings to the bottom.

Whether this legend be true or not, there is no doubt that the Rock had
been so dangerous to shipping, that seamen often avoided the firths of
Forth and Tay in bad weather for fear of it, and many captains, in their
anxiety to keep clear of it, ran their vessels in the neighbouring
coasts and perished.

Another proof that numerous wrecks took place there lay in the fact that
the fishermen were wont to visit the rock after every gale, for the
purpose of gathering wreckage.  It was resolved, therefore, about the
beginning of this century, to erect a lighthouse on the Inchcape Rock,
and to Mr Robert Stevenson, Engineer at that time to the Board of
Northern Lights, was assigned the task of building it.  He began the
work in August 1807, and finished it in February 1811.

I began my sojourn in the Bell Rock Lighthouse with breakfast.  On
ascending to the kitchen I found Stout preparing it.  Mr Long, the
chief, offered, with delicate hospitality, to carry my meals up to the
library, so that I might feast in dignified solitude, but I declined the
honour, preferring to fraternise with the men in the kitchen.  Breakfast
over, they showed me through the tower--pointed out and explained
everything--especially the lantern and the library--in which last I
afterwards read Mr Stevenson's interesting volume on the building of
the Bell Rock; a book which has been most appropriately styled the
_Robinson Crusoe_ of Engineering literature.

On returning to the entrance-door, I found that there was now _no land_!
The tide had risen.  The lighthouse was a mere pillar in the sea.
"Water, water everywhere"--nothing else visible save the distant coast
of Forfarshire like a faint blue line on the horizon.  But in the
evening the tide again fell, and, the moment the rock was uncovered, we
descended.  Then Mr Long showed me the various points of interest about
the rock, and Stout volunteered anecdotes connected with these, and
Young corroborated and expounded everything with intense enthusiasm.
Evidently Young rejoiced in the rare opportunity my visit afforded him
of breaking the monotony of life on the Bell Rock.  He was like a caged
bird, and on one occasion expressed his sentiments very forcibly by
saying to me, "Oh, sir, I sometimes wish I could jump up and never come
doon!"  As for Long and Stout, they had got used to lighthouses and
monotony.  The placid countenance of each was a sure index of the
profound tranquillity within!

Small though it was, the rock was a very world in itself to the
residents--crowded with "ports," and "wharves" and "ledges," which had
reference to the building-time.  There were "Sir Ralph the Rover's
ledge," and "the Abbot's ledge," and "the Engineer's ledge," and
"Cunningham's ledge," and "the Smith's ledge," etcetera.  Then there
were "Port Stevenson," and "Port Boyle," and "Port Hamilton," and many
others--each port being a mere hole capable of holding a boat or two.
Besides which there were "tracks," leading to these ports--such as
"Wilson's track," and "Macurich's track," and "Gloag's track."  And then
there were "Hope's Wharf," and "Rae's Wharf," and "Watt's Reach," and
"Scoresby Point," while, among numerous outlying groups of rocklets,
there were the "Royal Burghs," the "Crown Lawyers," and the "Maritime
Sheriffs"--each and all teeming with interesting associations to those
who know the Story of the Rock,--_all_ comprehended within an area of a
few hundred yards--the whole affair being wiped entirely and regularly
off the face of nature by every rising tide.

Close beside Rae's Wharf, on which we stood, Mr Long showed me the
holes in which had been fixed the ends of the great beams of the beacon.
The beacon was a point of considerable interest to me.  If you had seen
the rock as I saw it, reader, in a storm, with the water boiling all
over and round it for more than a mile, like seething milk--and if you
had reflected that the _first_ beacon built there was carried away in a
gale, you would have entertained very exalted ideas of the courage of
the men who built the Bell Rock lighthouse.

While the tower was building, Mr Stevenson and his men were exposed for
many days and nights in this beacon--this erection of timber-beams, with
a mere pigeon-house on the top of it for a dwelling.  Before the beacon
was built, the men lived in the _Pharos_ floating light; a vessel which
was moored not far from the Rock.  Every day--weather permitting--they
rowed to the rock, landed, and worked for _one, two_, or _three_ hours,
when they were drowned out, so to speak, and obliged to return to their
floating home.  Sometimes the landing was easy.  More frequently it was
difficult.  Occasionally it was impossible.  When a landing was
accomplished, they used to set to work without delay.  There was no time
to lose.  Some bored holes in the rock for hold-fasts; others, with pick
and chisel, cut out the foundation-pit.  Then the courses began to be
laid.  On each occasion of landing the smith had to set up his bellows,
light his fire, and work in hot haste; because his whole shop, except
the anvil, had to be taken down, and carried away every tide!
Frequently, in fine weather, this enterprising son of Vulcan might have
been seen toiling with his head enveloped in volumes of smoke and
sparks, and his feet in the water, which gradually rose to his ankles
and knees until, with a sudden "hiss," it extinguished his fire and
ended his labours for the day.  Then he was forced to pack up his
bellows and tools, and decamp with the rest of the men.

Sometimes they wrought in calm, sometimes in storm; always, more or
less, in water.  Three hours was considered a fair day's work.  When
they had the good fortune to work "double tides" in a day, they made
five, or five-and-a-half, hours; but this was of rare occurrence.

"You see that mark there, sir, on Smith's Ledge?" said Mr Long to me
one day, "that was the place where the forge stood; and the ledge
beyond, with the old bit of iron on it, is the `_Last Hope_,' where Mr
Stevenson and his men were so nearly lost."  Then he went on to tell me
the following incident, as illustrating one of the many narrow escapes
made by the builders.

One day, soon after the men had commenced work, it began to blow hard,
and the crew of the boat belonging to the attending vessel, named the
"Smeaton," fearing that her moorings might be insufficient, went off to
examine them.  This was wrong.  The workmen on the rock were
sufficiently numerous to completely fill three boats.  For one of these
to leave the rock was to run a great risk, as the event proved.  Almost
as soon as they reached the "Smeaton," her cables parted and she went
adrift, carrying the boat with her away to leeward, and although sail
was instantly made, they found it impossible to regain the rock against
wind and tide.  Mr Stevenson observed this with the deepest anxiety,
but the men, (busy as bees about the rock), were not aware of it at
first.

The situation was terrible.  There were thirty-two men left on a rock
which would in a short time be overflowed to a depth of twelve or
fifteen feet by a stormy sea, and only two boats in which to remove
them.  These two boats, if loaded to the gunwales, could have held only
a few more than the half of them.

While the sound of the numerous hammers and the ring of the anvil were
heard, the situation did not appear so hopeless; but soon the men at the
lowest part of the foundation were driven from work by the rising tide;
then the forge-fire was extinguished, and the men generally began to
make towards their respective boats for their jackets and dry socks.
When it was discovered that one of the three boats was gone not a word
was uttered, but the men looked at each other in evident perplexity.
They seemed to realise their position at once.

In a few minutes some of that band must inevitably be left to perish,
for the absent boat and vessel were seen drifting farther and farther
away to leeward.  Mr Stevenson knew that in such a case, where life and
death were in the balance, a desperate struggle among the men for
precedence would be certain.  Indeed he afterwards learned that the
pickmen had resolved to stick by their boat against all hazards.  While
they were thus gazing in silence at each other and at the distant
vessel, their enterprising leader had been casting about in his mind as
to the best method of at least attempting the deliverance of his men,
and he finally turned round to propose, as a forlorn hope, that all
hands should strip off their upper clothing, that every unnecessary
article should be removed from the boats, that a specified number should
get into each, and that the remainder should hang on by the gunwales,
and thus be dragged through the water while they were rowed cautiously
towards the "Smeaton"!  But when he tried to speak his mouth was so
parched that his tongue refused utterance! and then he discovered, (as
he says himself), "that saliva is as necessary to speech as the tongue
itself!"  Turning to a pool, he moistened his lips with sea-water, and
found immediate relief.  He was again about to speak when some one
shouted "a boat! a boat!" and, sure enough, a large boat was seen
through the haze making towards the rock.  This timely visitor was James
Spink, the Bell Rock pilot, who had come off express from Arbroath with
letters.  His visit was altogether an unusual one, and his truly
providential appearance unquestionably prevented loss of life on that
critical occasion.  This is one specimen--selected from innumerable
instances of danger and risk--which may give one some idea of what is
encountered by those who build such lighthouses as the Bell Rock.

Our rambles on the rock were necessarily of short duration.  We used to
stand in the doorway watching the retreating waves, and, the moment the
rails were uncovered, we hurried down the ladder--all of us bent on
getting as much exercise as possible on land!  We marched in single
file, up and down the narrow rails, until the rock was uncovered--then
we rambled over the slippery ledges.

Sometimes we had one hour--sometimes two, or even three hours, according
to the state of the tides.  Then the returning waves drove us gradually
from the rocks to the rails, from the rails to the ladder--and so back
into the lighthouse.

Among other things that impressed me deeply was the grandeur of the
waves at the Bell Rock.

One enjoys an opportunity there of studying the form and colour of ocean
billows which cannot be obtained on any ordinary shore, because, the
water being deep alongside the Rock, these waves come up to it in all
their unbroken magnificence.  I tried to paint them, but found it
difficult, owing to the fact that, like refractory children, they would
not stand still to be painted!  It was not only in stormy weather that
these waves arose.  I have seen them during a dead calm, when the sea
was like undulating glass.  No doubt the cause of them was a gale in
some distant part of the sea--inducing a heavy ground-swell; but, be the
cause what it might, these majestic rollers often came in without a
breath of air to help them, and with the sun glittering on their
light-green crystal sides.  Their advance seemed slow and solemn amid
the deep silence, which made them all the more impressive.  The rise of
each wave was so gradual that you could not tell where it began in the
distant sea.  As it drew near, it took definite form and swelled
upwards, and at last came on like a wall of glass--probably ten or
twelve feet high--so high, at all events, that I felt as if looking up
at it from my position on the low rock.  When close at hand its green
edge lipped over and became fringed with white--then it bent forward
with a profound obeisance to the Bell Rock and broke the silence with a
grand reverberating roar, as it fell in a ruin of foam and rushed up to
my very feet!

When those waves began to paint the canvas with their own spray and
change the oil into a water-colour, I was constrained to retire to the
lighthouse, where Mr Long, (a deeply interested student), watched me as
I continued my studies from the doorway.

Mr Long had an inquiring mind and closely observed all that went on
around him.  Among other things, he introduced me to a friend of his, a
species of fish which he called a "_Paddle_."

Stout called it a sucker, in virtue of an arrangement on its breast
whereby it could fasten itself to a rock and hold on.  This fish dwelt
in Port Hamilton, near Sir Ralph the Rover's ledge, and could be visited
at low-tide.  He happened to be engaged at that time in watching his
wife's spawn, and could not be induced to let go his hold of the rock on
any account!  Mr Long pulled at him pretty forcibly once or twice, but
with no effect, and the fish did not seem in the least alarmed!  While
Mr Paddle did duty in the nursery, Mrs Paddle roamed the sea at large.
Apparently women's rights have made some progress in that quarter!  It
was supposed by Stout that she took the night-watches.  Mr Young
inclined to the opinion that she attended to the commissariat--was out
marketing in fact, and brought food to her husband.  All that I can say
on the matter is, that I visited the family frequently, and always saw
the father "on duty," but only once found Mrs Paddle at home!  The
tameness of this kind of fish is very remarkable.  One day I saw a large
one in a pool which actually allowed me to put my hand under him and
lift him gently out!  Suddenly it occurred to me that I might paint him!
The palette chanced to be at hand, so I began at once.  In about two
minutes the paddle gave a flop of discomfort as he lay on the rock; I
therefore put him into a small pool for a minute or so to let him,
breathe, then took him out and had a second sitting, after which he had
another rest and a little refreshment in the pool.  Thus in about ten
minutes, I had his portrait, and put him back into his native element.

I am inclined to think that this is the only fish in the sea that has
had his portrait taken and returned to tell the tale to his admiring,
perhaps unbelieving, friends!

Of course one of the most interesting points in the lighthouse was the
lantern.  I frequently sat in it at night with the man on duty, who
expounded the lighting apparatus to me, or "spun yarns."

The fifth day of my sojourn on the Bell Rock was marked by an event of
great interest,--the arrival of a fishing-boat with letters and
newspapers.  I had begun by that time to feel some degree of longing to
hear something about the outer world, though I had not felt lonely by
any means--my companions were too pleasant to admit of that.  Our little
world contained a large amount of talent!  Mr Long had a magnificent
bass voice and made good use of it.  Then, Young played the violin, (not
so badly), and sang tenor--not quite so well; besides which he played
the accordion.  His instrument, however, was not perfect.  One of the
bass notes would not sound, and one of the treble notes could not by any
means be silenced!  Between the two, some damage was done to the
harmony; but we were not particular.  As to Stout--he could neither sing
nor play, but he was a _splendid_ listener! and the sight of his
good-humoured face, smiling through clouds of tobacco smoke as he sat by
the kitchen fire, was of itself sufficient to encourage us.

But Stout could do more than listen and admire.  He was cook to the
establishment during my visit.  The men took this duty by turns--each
for a fortnight--and Stout excelled the others.  It was he who knew how
to extract sweet music from the tea-kettle and the frying-pan!  But
Stout's forte was buttered toast!  He was quite an adept at the
formation of this luxury.  If I remember rightly, it was an entire loaf
that Stout cut up and toasted each morning for breakfast.  He knew
nothing of delicate treatment.  Every slice was an inch thick at the
least!  It was quite a study to see him go to work.  He never sawed with
the knife.  Having a powerful hand and arm, one sweep of the blade
sufficed for one slice, and he cut up the whole loaf before beginning to
toast.  Then, he always had the fire well prepared.  You never saw
alternate stripes of black and white on Stout's toast; and he laid on
the butter as he might have laid tar on the side of a ship, thick and
heavy.  He never scraped it off one part to put it on another--and he
never picked the lumps out of the holes.  Truly, Stout was quite a
genius in this matter.

The fisherman who brought off our letters could not have landed if the
weather had not been fine.  Poor fellow! after I left, he lost his boat
in consequence of being on too familiar terms with the Bell Rock.  He
was in the habit of fishing near the rock, and occasionally ran in at
low-water to smoke a pipe with the keepers.  One morning he stayed too
long.  The large green billows which had been falling with solemn boom
on the outlying rocks began to lip over into the pool where his boat
lay--Port Stevenson.  Embarking in haste with his comrade he pushed off.
Just then there came a tremendous wave, the crest of which toppled over
Smith's Ledge, fell into the boat, and sank it like a stone.  The men
were saved by the keepers, but their boat was totally destroyed.  They
never saw a fragment of it again.  What a commentary this was on the
innumerable wrecks that have taken place on the Inch Cape Rock in days
gone by!

Sometimes, on a dark stormy night, I used to try to realise something of
this.  Turning my back on the lighthouse I tried to forget it, and
imagine what must have been the feelings of those who had actually stood
there and been driven inch by inch to the higher ledges, with the
certain knowledge that their doom was fixed, and without the comfort and
assurance that, behind them, stood a strong tower of refuge from the
storm!

I was fortunate, during my stay, in having experience of every variety
of weather--from a dead calm to a regular gale.  It was towards the end
of my visit that the gale came on, and it lasted two days.  No language
can convey an adequate idea of the sublimity of the scene and the sense
of power in the seething waves that waged furious war over the Rock
during the height of that gale.  The spray rose above the kitchen
windows, (70 feet on the tower), in such solid masses as to darken the
room in passing, and twice during the storm we were struck by waves with
such force as to shake the tower to its foundation.

This storm delayed the "Relief boat" a day.  Next day, however, it
succeeded in getting alongside--and at length, after a most agreeable
and interesting sojourn of two weeks, I parted from the hospitable
keepers with sincere regret and bade adieu to a lighthouse which is not
only a monument of engineering skill, but a source of safety to the
shipping, and of confidence to the mariners frequenting these waters.

In former days men shunned the dreaded neighbourhood of the Inch Cape
Rock with anxious care.  Now, they look out for that:--

  "Ruddy gem of changeful light
  Bound on the dusky brow of night,--"

And _make for it_ with perfect safety.  In time past human lives, and
noble ships, and costly merchandise were lost on the Bell Rock every
year.  Now, disaster to shipping there is not even dreamed of; and one
of the most notable proofs of the value of the lighthouse, (and,
indirectly, of all other lighthouses), lies in the fact, that not a
single wreck has occurred on the Bell Rock since that auspicious evening
in 1811 when the sturdy pillar opened its eyes for the first time, and
threw its bright beams far and wide over the North Sea.



CHAPTER THREE.

NIGHTS WITH THE FIRE BRIGADE.

There are few lives, we should think, more trying or more full of
curious adventure and thrilling incident than that of a London fireman.

He must always be on the alert.  No hour of the day or night can he ever
count on as being his own, unless on those occasions when he obtains
leave of absence, which I suppose are not frequent.  If he does not
absolutely sleep in his clothes, he sleeps beside them--arranged in such
a way that he can jump into them at a moment's notice.

When the summons comes there must be no preliminary yawning; no soft
transition from the land of dreams to the world of reality.  He jumps
into his boots which stand invitingly ready, pulls on his trousers,
buttons his braces while descending to the street, and must be
brass-helmeted on the engine and away like a fiery dragon-gone-mad
within three minutes of "the call," or thereabouts, if he is to escape a
fine.

Moreover, the London fireman must be prepared to face death at any
moment.  When the call comes he never knows whether he is turning out to
something not much more serious than "a chimney," or to one of those
devastating conflagrations on the river-side in which many thousand
pounds worth of property are swept away, and his life may go along with
them.  Far more frequently than the soldier or sailor is he liable to be
ordered on a duty which shall turn out to be a forlorn hope, and not
less pluckily does he obey.

There is no respite for him.  The field which the London Brigade covers
is so vast that the liability to be sent into action is continuous--
chiefly, of course, at night.  At one moment he may be calmly polishing
up the "brasses" of his engine, or skylarking with his comrades, or
sedately reading a book, or snoozing in bed, and the next he may be
battling fiercely with the flames.  Unlike the lifeboat heroes, who may
sleep when the world of waters is calm, he must be ever on the watch;
for his enemy is a lurking foe--like the Red Indian who pounces on you
when you least expect him, and does not utter his warwhoop until he
deems his victory secure.  The little spark smoulders while the fireman
on guard, booted and belted, keeps watch at his station.  It creeps
while he waits, and not until its energies have gained considerable
force does it burst forth with a grand roar and bid him fierce defiance.

Even when conquered in one quarter it often leaps up in another, so that
the fireman sometimes returns from the field twice or thrice in the same
night to find that the enemy is in force elsewhere and that the fight
must be resumed.

In the spring of 1867 I went to London to gather material for my book
_Fighting the Flames_, and was kindly permitted by Captain Shaw--then
Chief of the Fire Brigade--to spend a couple of weeks at one of the
principal west-end stations, and accompany the men to fires.

My first experience was somewhat stirring.

My plan was to go to the station late in the evening and remain up all
night with the men on guard waiting for fires.

One day, in the afternoon, when it was growing dusk, and before I had
made my first visit to the station, a broad-shouldered jovial-looking
fellow in blue coat, belted, and with a sailor's cap, called on me and
asked if I should like to "see a 'ouse as 'ad bin blowed up with gas."

Of course I was only too glad to follow him.  He conducted me to an
elegant mansion in Bayswater, and chatted pleasantly as we went along in
somewhat nautical tones, for he had been a man-of-war's man.  His name
was Flaxmore.

I may remark here that the men of the London brigade were, and still
are, I believe, chosen from among seamen.

"You see, sir," said Flaxmore, in explanation of this fact, "sailors are
found to be most suitable for the brigade because they're accustomed to
strict discipline,--to turn out suddenly at all hours, in all weathers,
and to climbing in dangerous circumstances."

Arrived at the mansion, we found that the outside looked all right
except that most of the windows were broken.  The interior, however,
presented a sad and curious appearance.  The house had been recently
done up in the most expensive style, and its gilded cornices, painted
pilasters and other ornaments, with the lath and plaster of walls and
ceilings had been blown into the rooms in dire confusion.

"Bin a pretty considerable smash here, sir," said Flaxmore, with a
genial smile on his broad countenance.  I admitted the fact, and asked
how it happened.

"Well, sir, you see," said he, "there was an 'orrid smell of gas in the
'ouse, an' the missus she sent for a gas man to find out where it was,
and, _would_ _you believe it_, sir, they went to look for it _with a
candle_!  Sure enough they found it too, in a small cupboard.  The gas
had been escapin', it had, but couldn't git out o' that there cupboard,
'cause the door was a tight fit, so it had made its way all over the
'ouse between the lath and plaster and the walls.  As soon as ever it
caught light, sir, it blowed the whole place into smash--as you see.  It
blowed the gas man flat on his back; (an' sarved him right!) it blowed
the missus through the doorway, an' it blowed the cook--(as was on the
landin' outside)--right down the kitchen stairs, it did;--but there was
none of 'em much hurt, sir, they wasn't, beyond a bruise or two!"

After examining this house, Flaxmore proposed that I should go and see
his engine.  He was proud of his engine, evidently, and spoke of it as a
man might speak of his wife!

On our way to the station the driver of a passing 'bus called out--

"Fireman, there's a fire in New Bond Street."

One word Flaxmore exchanged with the driver, and then, turning to me,
said, "Come on, sir, I'll give you a ride!"

Off we went at a run, and burst into the station.  "Get her out, Jim,"
cried Flaxmore, (_her_ being the engine).  Jim, the man on duty, put on
his helmet without saying a word, and hauled out the fire-engine, while
a comrade ran for the horses, and another called up the men.  In five
minutes more I was seated beside seven men in blue uniforms and brass
helmets, dashing through the streets of London at full gallop!

Now, those who have never seen a London fire-engine go to a fire have no
conception of what it is--much less have they any conception of what it
is to ride on the engine!  To those accustomed to it, no doubt, it may
be tame enough--I cannot tell; but to those who mount an engine for the
first time and dash through the crowded thoroughfares at a wild tearing
gallop; it is probably the most exciting drive conceivable.  It beats
steeplechasing!  It feels like driving to destruction--so desperate and
reckless is it.  And yet, it is not reckless in the strict sense of that
word; for there is a stern need-be in the case.  Every moment, (not to
mention minutes or hours), is of the utmost importance in the progress
of a fire, for when it gets the mastery and bursts into flames it
flashes to its work, and completes it quickly.  At such times one moment
wasted may involve the loss of thousands of pounds, ay, and of human
lives also.  This is well-known to those whose profession it is to fight
the flames.  Hence the union of apparent mad desperation, with cool,
quiet self-possession in their proceedings.  When firemen can work in
silence they do so.  No unnecessary word is uttered, no voice is
needlessly raised; but, when occasion requires it, their course is a
tumultuous rush, amid a storm of shouting and gesticulation!

So was it on the present occasion.  Had the fire been distant, they
would have had to commence their gallop somewhat leisurely, for fear of
breaking down the horses; but it was not far off--not much more than a
couple of miles--so they dashed round the corner of their own street and
swept into the Edgeware Road at full speed.

Here the noise of our progress began, for the great thoroughfare was
crowded with vehicles and pedestrians.

To pass through such a crowd without coming into collision with anything
required not only dexterous driving, but rendered it necessary that two
of the men on the engine should stand up and shout incessantly as we
whirled along, clearing everything out of our way.

The men seemed to shout with the memory of the boatswain strong upon
them, for their tones were pitched in the deepest and gruffest bass-key.
Sometimes there was a lull for a moment, as a comparatively clear space
of 100 yards or so lay before us; then their voices rose like the
roaring of the gale as a stupid or deaf cabman got in our way, or a
plethoric 'bus threatened to interrupt our furious career.  The cross
streets were the points where the chief difficulties met us.  There cab-
and van-drivers turned into or crossed the great thoroughfare, all
ignorant of the thunderbolt that was rushing on like a fiery meteor,
with its lanterns casting a glare of light before, and the helmets of
the stern charioteers flashing back the rays from street-lamps and
windows.  At the corner of one of the streets the crowd of vehicles was
so great that the driver of the engine began to tighten his reins, while
Flaxmore and his comrades raised a furious roar.  Cabs, 'buses, and
pedestrians scattered right and left in a marvellous manner; the driver
slackened his reins, cracked his whip, and the horses stretched out
again.

"There, it shows a light," observed Flaxmore, as we tore along Oxford
Street.  At that moment a stupid cabman blocked up the way.  There was a
terrific shout from all the firemen, at once! but the man did not hear.
Our driver attempted both to pull up and to turn aside; the first was
impossible, the latter he did so effectively that he not only cleared
the cab but made straight at a lamp-post on the other side!  A crash
seemed inevitable, but Flaxmore, observing the danger, seized the rein
next to him and swung the horses round.  We flew past, just shaving the
lamp-post, and in three minutes more pulled up at a house which was
blazing in the upper floors.  Three engines were already at work on it.
Flaxmore and his men at once entered the burning house, which by that
time was nearly gutted.  I stood outside looking on, but soon became
anxious to know what was doing inside, and attempted to enter.  A
policeman stopped me, but at that moment Flaxmore came out like a
half-drowned rat, his face streaked with brick-dust and charcoal.
Seeing what I wanted he led me into the house, and immediately I found
myself in a hot shower-bath which did not improve my coat or hat!  At
the same time I stepped up to the ankles in hot water!  Tons of water
were being poured on the house by three powerful engines, and this, in
passing through so much heated material had become comfortably warm.
The first thing I saw on entering was a foaming cataract!  This was the
staircase, down which the water rushed, breaking over masses of fallen
brickwork and debris, with a noise like a goodly Highland burn!  Up this
we waded, but could get no further than the room above, as the upper
stair had fallen in.  I was about to descend in order to try to reach
the roof by some other way, when a fireman caught me by the collar,
exclaiming--"Hold on, sir!"  He thought the staircase was about to fall.
"Bolt now, sir," he added, releasing me.  I bolted, and was out in the
street in a moment, where I found that some of the firemen who had first
arrived, and were much exhausted, were being served with a glass of
brandy.  If there were any case in which a teetotaller might be
justified in taking spirits, it would be, I think, when exhausted by
toiling for hours amid the heat and smoke and danger of a fire--
nevertheless I found that several of the firemen there were
teetotallers.

There was a shout of laughter at this moment, occasioned by one of the
firemen having accidentally turned the _branch_ or delivery pipe full on
the faces of the crowd and drenched some of them.  This was followed by
a loud cheer when another fireman was seen to have clambered to the roof
whence he could apply the water with better effect.  At last their
efforts were crowned with success.  Before midnight the fire was
extinguished, and we drove back to the Paddington Station at a more
leisurely pace.  Thus ended my first experience of a London fire.

Accidents, as may be easily believed, are of frequent occurrence.

Accidents.

There were between forty to fifty a year.  In 1865 they were as
follows:--

+=========================+==+
|Cuts and Lacerated Wounds|12|
+-------------------------+--+
|Contusions               |15|
+-------------------------+--+
|Fractures                | 2|
+-------------------------+--+
|Sprains                  | 9|
+-------------------------+--+
|Burns and Scalds         | 3|
+-------------------------+--+
|Injury to Eyes           | 5|
+-------------------------+--+
|                         |46|
+=========================+==+

My friend Flaxmore himself met with an accident not long afterwards.  He
slipped off the roof of a house and fell on his back from a height of
about fifteen feet.  Being a heavy man, the fall told severely on him.

For about two weeks I went almost every evening to the Regent Street
Station and spent the night with the men, in the hope of accompanying
them to fires.  The "lobby"--as the watch room of the station was
named--was a small one, round the walls of which the brass helmets and
hatchets of the men were hung.  Here, each night, two men slept on two
trestle-beds.  They were fully equipped, with the exception of their
helmets.  Their comrades slept at their own homes, which were within a
few yards of the station.  The furniture of the "lobby" was scanty--a
desk, a bookcase, two chairs, a clock, an alarm-bell, and four
telegraphic instruments comprised it all.  These last formed part of a
network of telegraphs which extended from the central station to nearly
all the other stations in London.  By means of the telegraph a "call" is
given--i.e. a fire is announced to the firemen all over London, if need
be, in a very few minutes.  Those who are nearest to the scene of
conflagration hasten to it at once with their engines, while each
outlying or distant station sends forward a man on foot.  These men,
coming up one by one, relieve those who have first hastened to the fire.

"Calls," however, are not always sent by telegraph.  Sometimes a furious
ring comes to the alarm-bell, and a man or a boy rushes in shouting
"_fire_!" with all his might.  People are generally much excited in such
circumstances,--sometimes half mad.  In one case a man came with a
"call" in such perturbation of mind that he could not tell where the
fire was at all for nearly five minutes!  On another occasion two men
rushed in with a call at the same moment, and both were stutterers.  My
own opinion is that one stuttered by nature and the other from
agitation.  Be that as it may, they were both half mad with excitement.

"F-f-f-fire!" roared one.

"F-f-f-fire!" yelled the other.

"Where away?" asked a fireman as he quietly buckled his belt and put on
his helmet.

"B-B-Brompton!"--"B-B-Bayswater!" burst from them both at the same
moment.  Then one cried, "I--I s-s-say Brompton," and the other shouted,
"I--I s-say Bayswater."

"What street?" asked the fireman.

"W-W-Walton Street," cried one.

"N-No--P-P-orchester Terrace," roared the other, and at the word the
Walton Street man hit the Porchester Terrace man between the eyes and
knocked him down.  A regular scuffle ensued, in the midst of which the
firemen got out two engines--and, before the stutterers were separated,
went off full swing, one to Brompton, the other to Bayswater, and found
that, as they had guessed, there were in reality two fires!

One night's experience in the "lobby" will give a specimen of the
fireman's work.  I had spent the greater part of the night there without
anything turning up.  About three in the morning the two men on duty lay
down on their trestle-beds to sleep, and I sat at the desk reading the
reports of recent fires.  The place was very quiet--the sounds of the
great city were hushed--the night was calm, and nothing was heard but
the soft breathing of the sleepers and the ticking of the clock as I sat
there waiting for a fire.  I often looked at the telegraph needles and,
(I am half ashamed to say it), longed for them to move and give us "a
call."  At last, when I had begun to despair, the sharp little telegraph
bell rang.  Up I started in some excitement--up started one of the
sleepers too, quite as quickly as I did, but without any excitement
whatever--he was accustomed to alarms!  Reading the telegraph with
sleepy eyes he said, with a yawn, "it's only a stop for a chimbley."  He
lay down again to sleep, and I sat down again to read and wait.  Soon
after the foreman came down-stairs to have a smoke and a chat.  Among
the many anecdotes which he told me was one which had a little of the
horrible in it.  He said he was once called to a fire in a cemetery,
where workmen had been employed in filling some of the vaults with
sawdust and closing them up.  They had been smoking down there and had
set fire to the sawdust, which set light to the coffins, and when the
firemen arrived these were burning fiercely, and the stench and smoke
were almost overpowering--nevertheless one of the men ran down the stair
of the vaults, but slipped his foot and fell.  Next moment he rushed up
with a face like a ghost, having fallen, he said, between two coffins!
Quickly recovering from his fright he again descended with his comrades,
and they soon managed to extinguish the fire.

The foreman went off to bed after relating this pleasant little incident
and left me to meditate on it.  Presently a sound of distant wheels
struck my ear.  On they came at a rattling pace.  In a few minutes a cab
dashed round the corner and drew up sharply at the door, which was
severely kicked, while the bell was rung furiously.  Up jumped the
sleepers again and in rushed a cabman, backed by a policeman, with the
usual shout of "fire."  Then followed "question brief and quick
reply"--"a fire in Great Portland Street close at hand."

"Get her out, Bill," was the order.  Bill darted to the engine-shed and
knocked up the driver in passing.  He got out the horses while the other
man ran from house to house of the neighbouring firemen giving a
_double_ ring to their bells.  Before the engine was horsed one and
another and another of the men darted into the station, donned his
helmet, and buckled on his axe; then they all sprang to their places,
the whip cracked, and off we went at full gallop only eight minutes
after the alarm-bell rang.  We spun through the streets like a rocket
with a tail of sparks behind us, for the fire of the engine had been
lighted before starting.

On reaching the fire it was found to be only smouldering in the basement
of the house, and the men of another engine were swarming through the
place searching for the seat of it.  I went in with our men, and the
first thing I saw was a coffin lying ready for use!  The foreman led me
down into a vaulted cellar, and here, strange to say, I found myself in
the midst of coffins!  It seemed like the realisation of the story I had
just heard.  There were not fewer than thirty of them on the floor and
ranged round the walls.  Happily, however, they were not tenanted.  In
fact the fire had occurred in an undertaker's workshop, and, in looking
through the premises, I came upon several coffins laid out ready for
immediate use.  Two of these impressed me much.  They lay side by side.
One was of plain black wood--a pauper's coffin evidently.  The other was
covered with fine cloth and gilt ornaments, and lined with padded white
satin!  I was making some moral reflections on the curious difference
between the last resting-place of the rich man and the poor, when I was
interrupted by the firemen who had discovered the fire and put it out,
so we jumped on the engine once more, and galloped back to the station.
Most of the men went off immediately to bed; the engine was housed; the
horses were stabled; the men on guard hung up their helmets and lay down
again on their trestle-beds; the foreman bade me "good-night," and I was
left once more in a silence that was broken only by the deep breathing
of the sleepers and the ticking of the clock--scarcely able to believe
that the stirring events of the previous hour were other than a vivid
dream.

All over London, at short distances apart, fire-escapes may be seen
rearing their tall heads in recesses and corners formed by the angles in
churches or other public buildings.  Each night these are brought out to
the streets, where they stand in readiness for instant use.

At the present time the escapes are in charge of the Fire Brigade.  When
I visited the firemen they were under direction of the Royal Society for
the Protection of Life from Fire, and in charge of Conductors, who sat
in sentry-boxes beside the escapes every night, summer and winter, ready
for action.

These conductors were clad like the firemen--except that their helmets
were made of black leather instead of brass.  They were not very
different from other mortals to look at, but they were picked men--every
one--bold as lions; true as steel; ready each night, at a moment's
notice, to place their lives in jeopardy in order to rescue their
fellow-creatures from the flames.  Of course they were paid for the
work, but the pay was small when we consider that it was the price of
indomitable courage, tremendous energy, great strength of limb, and
untiring perseverance in the face of appalling danger.

Here is a specimen of the way in which the escapes were worked.

On the night of the 2nd March 1866, the premises of a blockmaker named
George Milne caught fire.  The flames spread with great rapidity,
arousing Milne and his family, which consisted of his wife and seven
children.  All these sought refuge in the attics.  At first Milne
thought he could have saved himself, but with so many little children
round him he found himself utterly helpless.  Not far from the spot,
Henry Douglas, a fire-escape conductor, sat in his sentry-box, reading a
book, perchance, or meditating, mayhap, on the wife and little ones
slumbering snugly at home, while he kept watch over the sleeping city.
Soon the shout of fire reached his ears.  At once his cloth-cap was
exchanged for the black helmet, and, in a few seconds, the escape was
flying along the streets, pushed by the willing hands of policemen and
passers-by.  The answer to the summons was very prompt on this occasion,
but the fire was burning fiercely when Conductor Douglas arrived, and
the whole of the lower part of the house was so enveloped in flames and
smoke that the windows could not be seen at all.  Douglas therefore
pitched his escape, at a venture, on what he _thought_ would bring him
to the second-floor windows, and up he went amid the cheers of the
on-lookers.  Entering a window, he tried to search the room, (and the
cheers were hushed while the excited multitude gazed and listened with
breathless anxiety--for they knew that the man was in a position of
imminent danger).  In a few moments he re-appeared on the escape, half
suffocated.  He had heard screams in the room above, and at once threw
up the fly-ladder, by which he ascended to the parapet below the attic
rooms.  Here he discovered Milne and his family grouped together in
helpless despair.  We may conceive the gush of hope that must have
thrilled their breasts when Conductor Douglas leaped through the smoke
into the midst of them; but we can neither describe nor conceive,
(unless we have heard it in similar circumstances), the _tone_ of the
deafening cheers that greeted the brave man when he re-appeared on the
ladders, and, (with the aid of a policeman named John Pead), bore the
whole family, one by one, in safety to the ground!  For this deed
Conductor Douglas received the silver medal of the Society, and Pead,
the policeman, received a written testimonial and a sovereign.
Subsequently, in consequence of Conductor Douglas's serious illness,--
resulting from his efforts on this occasion--the Society voted him a
gratuity of 5 pounds beyond his sick allowance to mark their strong
approbation of his conduct.  Now in this case it is obvious that but for
the fire-escape, the blockmaker and his family must have perished.

Here is another case.  I quote the conductor's own account of it, as
given in the Fire Escape Society's annual report.  The conductor's name
was Shaw.  He writes:--

  "Upon my arrival from Aldersgate Street Station, the fire had gained
  strong hold upon the lower portion of the building, and the smoke
  issuing therefrom was so dense and suffocating as to render all escape
  by the staircase quite impossible.  Hearing cries for help from the
  upper part of the house, I placed my Fire Escape, ascended to the
  third floor, whence I rescued four persons--viz. Mrs Ferguson, her
  two children, and a lodger named Gibson.  They were all leaning
  against the window-sill, almost overcome.  I carried each down the
  Escape, (a height of nearly fifty feet), in perfect safety; and
  afterwards entered the back part of the premises, and took five young
  children from a yard where they were exposed to great danger from the
  fire."

There was a man in the London Brigade who deserves special notice--viz.
Conductor Samuel Wood.  Wood had been many years in the service, and
had, in the course of his career, saved no fewer than 168 lives.

On one occasion he was called to a fire in Church Lane.  He found a Mr
Nathan in the first-floor unable to descend the staircase, as the ground
floor was in flames.  He unshipped his first-floor ladder, and, with the
assistance of a policeman, brought Mr Nathan down.  Being informed that
there was a servant girl in the kitchen, Wood took his crowbar, wrenched
up the grating, and brought the young woman out in safety.  Now this I
give as a somewhat ordinary case.  It involved danger; but not so much
as to warrant the bestowal of the silver medal.  Nevertheless, Wood and
the policeman were awarded a written testimonial and a sum of money.

I have had some correspondence with Conductor Wood, whose broad breast
was covered with medals and clasps won in the service of the F.E.
Society.  At one fire he rushed up the escape before it was properly
pitched, and caught in his arms a man named Middleton as he was in the
act of jumping from a window.

At another time, on arriving at a fire, he found that the family thought
all had escaped, "but," wrote the conductor to me, "they soon missed the
old grandmother.--I immediately broke the shop door open and passed
through to the first-floor landing, where I discovered the old lady
lying insensible.  I placed her on my back, and crawled back to the
door, and I am happy to say she is alive now and doing well!"

So risky was a conductor's work that sometimes he had to be rescued by
others--as the following extract will illustrate.  It is from one of the
Society's reports:--

  "CASE 10,620.

  "Awarded to James Griffin, Inspector of the K Division of Police, the
  Society's Silver Medal, for the intrepid and valuable assistance
  rendered to Fire Escape Conductor Rickell at a Fire at the `Rose and
  Crown' public-house, Bridge Street, at one o'clock on the morning of
  February 1st, when, but for his assistance there is little doubt that
  the Conductor would have perished.  On the arrival of Conductor
  Rickell with the Mile End Fire Escape, not being satisfied that all
  the inmates had escaped, the Conductor entered the house, the upper
  part of which was burning fiercely; the Conductor not being seen for
  some time, the Inspector called to him, and, not receiving an answer,
  entered the house and ascended the stairs, and saw the Conductor lying
  on the floor quite insensible.  With some difficulty the Inspector
  reached him, and, dragging him down the staircase, carried him into
  the air, where he gradually recovered."

While attending fires in London, I wore one of the black leather helmets
of the Salvage Corps.  This had the double effect of protecting my head
from falling bricks, and enabling me to pass the cordon of police
unquestioned.

After a night of it I was wont to return home about dawn, as few fires
occur after that.  On these occasions I felt deeply grateful to the
keepers of small coffee-stalls, who, wheeling their entire shop and
stock-in-trade in a barrow, supplied early workmen with cups of hot
coffee at a halfpenny a piece, and slices of bread and butter for the
same modest sum.  At such times I came to know that "man wants but
little here below," if he only gets it hot and substantial.

Fire is such an important subject, and an element that any one may be
called on so suddenly and unexpectedly to face, that, at the risk of
being deemed presumptuous, I will, for a few minutes, turn aside from
these reminiscences to put a few plain questions to my reader.

Has it ever occurred to you to think what you would do if your house
took fire at night?  Do you know of any other mode of exit from your
house than by the front or back doors and the staircase?  Have you a
rope at home which would support a man's weight, and extend from an
upper window to the ground?  Nothing easier than to get and keep such a
rope.  A few shillings would purchase it.  Do you know how you would
attempt to throw water on the walls of one of your rooms, if it were on
fire near the ceiling?  A tea-cup would be of no use!  A sauce-pan would
not be much better.  As for buckets or basins, the strongest man could
not heave such weights of water to the ceiling with any precision or
effect.  But there are garden hand-pumps in every seedsman's shop with
which a man could deluge his property with the greatest ease.

Do you know how to tie two blankets or sheets together, so that the knot
shall not slip?  Your life may one day depend on such a simple piece of
knowledge.

Still further, do you know that in retreating from room to room before a
fire you should shut doors and windows behind you to prevent the supply
of air which feeds the flames?  Are you aware that by creeping on your
hands and knees, and keeping your head close to the ground, you can
manage to breathe in a room where the smoke would suffocate you if you
stood up?--also, that a wet sponge or handkerchief held over the mouth
and nose will enable you to breathe with less difficulty in the midst of
smoke?--Do you know that many persons, especially children, lose their
lives by being forgotten by the inmates of a house in cases of fire, and
that, if a fire came to you, you ought to see to it that every member of
your household is present to take advantage of any means of escape that
may be sent to you?

These subjects deserve to be considered thoughtfully by every one,
especially by heads of families--not only for their own sakes, but for
the sake of those whom God has committed to their care.  For suppose
that, (despite the improbability of such an event), your dwelling really
_did_ catch fire, how inconceivable would be the bitterness added to
your despair, if, in the midst of gathering smoke and flames--with death
staring you in the face, and rescue all but hopeless--you were compelled
to feel that you and yours might have escaped the impending danger if
you had only bestowed on fire-prevention, fire-extinction, and
fire-escape a very little forethought and consideration.



CHAPTER FOUR.

A WAR OF MERCY.

There is a great war in which the British Nation is at all times
engaged.

No bright seasons of peace mark the course of this war.  Year by year it
is waged unceasingly, though not at all times with the same fury, nor
always with the same results.

Sometimes, as in ordinary warfare, there are minor skirmishes in which
many a deed of heroism is done, though not recorded, and there are
pitched battles in which all our resources are called into action, and
the papers teem with the news of the defeats, disasters, and victories
of the great fight.

This war costs us hundreds of lives, thousands of ships, and millions of
money every year.  Our undying and unconquerable enemy is the storm, and
our great engines of war with which, through the blessing of God, we are
enabled to fight more or less successfully against the foe, are the
Lifeboat and the Rocket.

These engines, and the brave men who work them, are our sentinels of the
coast.  When the storm is brewing; when grey clouds lower, and muttering
thunder comes rolling over the sea, men with hard hands and bronzed
faces, clad in oilskin coats and sou'westers, saunter down to our quays
and headlands, all round the kingdom.  These are the Lifeboat crews on
the look-out.  The enemy is moving, and the sentinels are being posted--
or, rather, they are posting themselves--for the night, for all the
fighting men in this great war are volunteers.  They need no drilling to
prepare them for the field; no bugle or drum to sound the charge.  Their
drum is the rattling thunder, their trumpet the roaring storm.  They
began to train for this warfare when they were not so tall as their
fathers' boots, and there are no awkward squads among them now.  Their
organisation is rough and ready, like themselves, and simple too.  The
heavens call them to action; the coxswain grasps the helm; the men seize
the oars; the word is given, and the rest is straightforward fighting--
over everything, through everything, in the teeth of everything, until
the victory is gained, and rescued men and women and children are landed
in safety on our shores.

In the winter of 1863 my enthusiasm in the Lifeboat cause was aroused by
the reading in the papers of that wonderful achievement of the famous
Ramsgate Lifeboat, which, on a terrible night in that year, fought
against the storm for sixteen hours, and rescued a hundred and twenty
souls from death.

A strange fatality attaches to me somehow--namely, that whenever I have
an attack of enthusiasm, a book is the result!

Immediately after reading this episode in the great war, I called on the
Secretary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who kindly gave me
minute information as to the working of his Society, and lent me its
journals.

Then I took train to the coast of Deal, and spent a considerable part of
the succeeding weeks in the company of Isaac Jarman--at that time the
coxswain of the Ramsgate Lifeboat, and the chief hero in many a gallant
fight with the sea.

The splendid craft which he commanded was one of the self-righting,
insubmergible boats of the Institution.  Jarman's opinion of her was
expressed in the words "she's parfect, sir, and if you tried to improve
her you'd only spile her."  From him I obtained much information, and
many a yarn about his experiences on the famous and fatal Goodwin Sands,
which, if recorded, would fill a volume.  Indeed a volume has already
been written about them, and other deeds of daring on those Sands, by
one of the clergymen of Ramsgate.

I also saw the captain of the steam-tug that attends upon that boat.  He
took me on board his vessel and showed me the gold and silver medals he
had received from his own nation, and from the monarchs of foreign
lands, for rescuing human lives.  I chatted with the men of Deal whose
profession it is to work in the storm, and succour ships in distress,
and who have little to do but lounge on the beach and spin yarns when
the weather is fine.  I also listened to the thrilling yarns of Jarman
until I felt a strong desire to go off with him to a wreck.  This,
however, was not possible.  No amateur is allowed to go off in the
Ramsgate boat on any pretext whatever, but the restriction is not so
absolute in regard to the steamer which attends on her.  I obtained
leave to go out in this tug, which always lies with her fires banked up
ready to take the Lifeboat off to the sands, if her services should be
required.  Jarman promised to rouse me if a summons should come.  As in
cases of rescue from fire, speed is all-important.  I slept for several
nights with my clothes on--boots and all--at the hotel nearest to the
harbour.  But it was not to be.  Night after night continued
exasperatingly calm.

No gale would arise or wreck occur.  This was trying, as I lay there,
wakeful and hopeful, with plenty of time to study the perplexing
question whether it is legitimate, under any circumstance, to wish for a
wreck or a fire!

When patience was worn out I gave it up in despair.

At another time, however, I had an opportunity of seeing the Lifeboat in
action.  It was when I was spending a couple of weeks on board of the
"Gull" Lightship, which lies between Ramsgate and the Goodwins.

A "dirty" day had culminated in a tempestuous night.  The watch on deck,
clad in drenched oil-skins, was tramping overhead, rendering my repose
fitful.  Suddenly he opened the skylight, and shouted that the Southsand
Head Lightship was firing, and sending up rockets.  As this meant a
wreck on the sands we all rushed on deck, and saw the flare of a
tar-barrel in the far distance.  Already our watch was loading, and
firing our signal-gun, and sending up rockets for the purpose of calling
off the Ramsgate Lifeboat.  It chanced that the Broadstairs boat
observed the signals first, and, not long after, she flew past us under
sail, making for the wreck.

A little later we saw the signal-light of the Ramsgate tug, looming
through the mist like the great eye of the storm-fiend.  She ranged
close up, in order to ask whereaway the wreck was.  Being answered, she
sheared off, and as she did so, the Lifeboat, towing astern, came full
into view.  It seemed as if she had no crew, save only one man--
doubtless my friend Jarman--holding the steering lines; but, on closer
inspection, we could see the men crouching down, like a mass of oilskin
coats and sou'westers.  In a few minutes they were out of sight, and we
saw them no more, but afterwards heard that the wrecked crew had been
rescued and landed at Deal.

In this manner I obtained information sufficient to enable me to write
_The Lifeboat: a Tale of our Coast Heroes_, and _The Floating Light of
the Goodwin Sands_.

A curious coincidence occurred when I was engaged with the Lifeboat
story, which merits notice.

Being much impressed with the value of the Lifeboat service to the
nation, I took to lecturing as well as writing on this subject.  One
night, while in Edinburgh in the spring of 1866, a deputation of working
men, some of whom had become deeply interested in Lifeboat work, asked
me to re-deliver my lecture.  I willingly agreed to do so, and the
result was that the working men of Edinburgh resolved to raise 400
pounds among themselves, and present a boat to the Institution.  They
set to work energetically; appointed a Committee, which met once a week;
divided the city into districts; canvassed all the principal trades and
workshops, and, before the year was out, had almost raised the necessary
funds.

In the end, the boat was ordered and paid for, and sent to Edinburgh to
be exhibited.  It was drawn by six magnificent horses through the
principal streets of the city, with a real lifeboat crew on board, in
their sou'westers and cork life-belts.  Then it was launched in Saint
Margaret's Loch, at the foot of Arthur's Seat, where it was upset--with
great difficulty, by means of a large erection with blocks and ropes--in
order to show its self-righting and self-emptying qualities to the
thousands of spectators who crowded the hill-sides.

At this time the good people of Glasgow had been smitten with a desire
to present a lifeboat to the Institution, and, in order to create an
interest in the movement, asked the loan of the Edinburgh boat for
exhibition.  The boat was sent, and placed on view in a conspicuous part
of the city.

Among the thousands who paid it a visit was a lady who took her little
boy to see it, and who dropped a contribution into the box, which stood
invitingly alongside.  That lady was the wife of a sea-captain, who lost
his ship on the coast of Wigton, where the Edinburgh boat was stationed,
and whose life was saved by that identical boat.  And not only so, but
the rescue was accomplished on the anniversary of the very day on which
his wife had put her contribution into the collecting-box!

Sixteen lives were saved by it at that time, and, not long afterwards,
fourteen more people were rescued by it from the insatiable sea; so that
the working men of Edinburgh have reason to be thankful for the success
which has attended them in their effort to "rescue the perishing."

Moreover, some time afterwards, the ladies of Edinburgh--smitten with
zeal for the cause of suffering humanity, and for the honour of their
"own romantic town"--put their pretty, if not lusty, shoulders to the
wheel, raised a thousand pounds, and endowed the boat, so that, with
God's blessing, it will remain in all time coming on that exposed coast,
ready for action in the good cause.



CHAPTER FIVE.

DESCENT INTO THE CORNISH MINES.

From Lighthouses, Lifeboats, and Fire-brigades into the tin and copper
mines of Cornwall is a rather violent leap, but by no means an
unpleasant one.

In the year 1868 I took this leap when desirous of obtaining material
for _Deep Down: a Tale of the Cornish Mines_.

For three months my wife and I stayed in the town of Saint Just, close
to the Land's End, during which time I visited some of the principal
mines in Cornwall; associated with the managers, "captains," and miners,
and tried my best to become acquainted with the circumstances of the
people.

The Cornish tin trade is very old.  In times so remote that historical
light is dim, the Phoenicians came in their galleys to trade with the
men of Cornwall for tin.

Herodotus, (writing 450 years B.C.) mentions the tin islands of Britain
under the name of the _Cassiterides_ and Diodorus Siculus, (writing
about half a century B.C.), says:

"The inhabitants of that extremity of Britain which is called Bolerion,
excel in hospitality, and also, by their intercourse with foreign
merchants, they are civilised in their mode of life.  These prepare the
tin, working very skilfully the earth which produces it."

There is said to be ground for believing that Cornish tin was used in
the construction of the temple of Jerusalem.  At the present time the
men of Cornwall are to be found toiling, as did their forefathers in the
days of old, deep down in the bowels of the earth--and even out under
the bed of the sea--in quest of tin.

"Tin, Copper, and Fish" is one of the standing toasts in Cornwall, and
in these three words lie the head, backbone, and tail of the county, the
sources of its wealth, and the objects of its energies.

As my visit, however, was paid chiefly for the purpose of investigating
the mines, I will not touch on fish here.  Having obtained introduction
to the managers of Botallack--the most famous of the Cornish Mines--I
was led through miles of subterranean tunnels and to depths profound, by
the obliging, amiable, and anecdotal Captain Jan--one of the "Captains"
or overseers of the mine.

He was quite an original, this Captain Jan; a man who knew the forty
miles of underground workings in Botallack as well, I suppose, as a
postman knows his beat; a man who dived into the bowels of the earth
with the vigour and confidence of a mole and the simple-minded serenity
of a seraph.

The land at this part of Cornwall is not picturesque, except at the
sea-cliffs, which rise somewhere about three hundred feet sheer out of
deep water, where there is usually no strip of beach to break the rush
of the great Atlantic billows that grind the rocks incessantly.

The most prominent objects elsewhere are masses of debris; huge pieces
of worn-out machinery; tall chimneys and old engine-houses, with big
ungainly beams, or "bobs," projecting from them.  These "bobs" are
attached to pumps which work continually to keep the mines dry.  They
move up and down very slowly, with a pause between each stroke, as if
they were seriously considering whether it was worth while continuing
the dreary work any longer, and could not make up their minds on the
point.  Their slow motions, however, give evidence of life and toil
below the surface.  Other "bobs" standing idle tell of disappointed
hopes and broken fortunes.  There are not a few such landmarks at the
Land's End--stern monitors, warning wild and wicked speculators to
beware.

One day--it might have been night as far as our gloomy surroundings
indicated--Captain Jan and I were stumbling along one of the levels of
Botallack, I know not how many fathoms down.  We wore miners' hats with
a candle stuck in front of each by means of a piece of clay.  The hats
were thicker than a fireman's helmet, though by no means as elegant.
You might have plunged upon them head first without causing a dint.

Captain Jan stopped beside some fallen rocks.  We had been walking for
more than an hour in these subterranean labyrinths and felt inclined to
rest.

"You were asking about the word _wheal_," said the captain, sticking his
candle against the wall of the level and sitting down on a ledge, "it do
signify a mine, as Wheal Frances, Wheal Owles, Wheal Edwards, and the
like.  When Cornishmen do see a London Company start a mine on a grand
scale, with a deal of fuss and superficial show, and an imposing staff
of directors, etcetera, while, down in the mine itself, where the real
work ought to be done, perhaps only two men and a boy are known to be at
work, they shake their heads and button up their pockets; perhaps they
call the affair wheal _Do-em_, and when that mine stops, (becomes what
we call a `knacked bal') it may be styled wheal _Donem_!"

A traveller chanced to pass a water-wheel not long ago, near Saint Just.

"What's that?" he said to a miner who sat smoking his pipe beside it.

"That, sur? why, that's a pump, that is."

"What does it pump?" asked the traveller.

"Pump, sur?" replied the man with a grim smile, "why, et do pump gold
out o' the Londoners!"

There have been too many wheal _Do-ems_ in Cornwall.

Botallack mine is not, I need scarcely say, a wheal Do-em.  It is a
grand old mine--grand because its beginning is enveloped in the mists of
antiquity; because it affords now, and has afforded for ages back,
sustenance to hundreds of miners and their families, besides enriching
the country; because its situation on the wild cliffs is unusually
picturesque, and because its dark shafts and levels not only descend to
an immense depth below the surface, but extend far out under the bottom
of the sea.  Its engine-houses and machinery are perched upon the edge
of a steep cliff, and scattered over its face and down among its dark
chasms in places where one would imagine that only a sea-gull would dare
to venture.

Underground there exists a vast region of shafts and levels, or
tunnels--mostly low, narrow, and crooked places--in which men have to
stoop and walk with caution, and where they work by candlelight--a
region which is measured to the inch, and has all its parts mapped out
and named as carefully as are the fields above.  Some idea of the extent
of this mine may be gathered from the fact that it is 245 fathoms, (1470
feet), deep, and that all the levels put together form an amount of
cutting through almost solid granite equal to nearly 40 miles in extent.
The deepest part of the mine is that which lies under the bottom of the
sea, three-quarters of a mile from the shore; and, strange to say, that
is also the _driest_ part of the mine.  The Great Eastern would find
depth of water sufficient to permit of her anchoring and floating
securely in places where miners are at work, blowing up the solid rock,
1470 feet below her keel--a depth so profound that the wildest waves
that ever burst upon the shore, or the loudest thunder that ever
reverberated among the cliffs, could not send down the faintest echo of
a sound.

The ladder-way by which the men descend to their work is 1230 feet deep.
It takes half an hour to descend and an hour to climb to the surface.

It was a bright morning in May when I walked over from Saint Just with
Captain Jan to pay my first underground visit to Botallack.

Arrayed in the red-stained canvas coat and trousers of the mine, with a
candle stuck in the front of our very strong hats and three spare ones
each hung at our breasts, we proceeded to the ladder-way.  This was a
small platform with a hole in it just big enough to admit a man, out of
which projected the head of a strong ladder.  Before descending Captain
Jan glanced down the hole and listened to a distant, regular, clicking
sound--like the ticking of a clock.  "A man coming up," said he, "we'll
wait a minute."

I looked down, and, in the profound abyss, saw the twinkling of,
apparently, a little star.  The steady click of the miner's nailed shoes
on the iron rounds of the ladder continued, and the star advanced,
until, by its feeble light I saw the hat to which it was attached.
Presently a man emerged from the hole, and raising himself erect, gave
vent to a long, deep-drawn sigh.  It was, I may say, a suggestive sigh,
for there was a sense of intense relief conveyed by it.  The man had
just completed an hour of steady, continuous climbing up the ladders,
after eight hours of night-work in impure atmosphere, and the first
great draught of the fresh air of heaven must have seemed like nectar to
his soul!  His red garments were soaking, perspiration streamed from
every pore in his body, and washed the red earth in streaks down his
pale countenance.  Although pale, however, the miner was strong and in
the prime of life.  Chills and bad air, (the two great demons of the
mines), had not yet smitten his sturdy frame with "miner's complaint."
He looked tired, but not exhausted, and bestowed a grave glance on me
and a quiet nod on Captain Jan as he walked away to change his dress in
the drying-house.  My contemplation of the retiring miner was
interrupted by Captain Jan saying--"I'll go first, sir, to catch you if
you should fall."  This remark reminded me of many stories I had heard
of men "falling away from the ladders;" of beams breaking and letting
them tumble into awful gulfs; of stones giving way and coming down the
shafts like grape or cannon-shot, and the like.  However, I stepped on
the ladder and prepared to follow my guide into the regions of
unchanging night!  A few fathoms' descent brought us into twilight and
to a small platform on which the foot of the first ladder rested.
Through a hole in this the head of the second ladder appeared.

Here we lighted the candles, for the next ladder--a longer one, 50 feet
or so--would have landed us in midnight darkness.  Half way down it, I
looked up and saw the hole at the top like a large white star.  At the
foot I looked up again, the star was gone, and I felt that we were at
last in a region where, (from the time of creation), sunlight had never
shone.  Down, down, ever _downwards_, was the uppermost idea in my mind
for some time after that.  Other thoughts there were, of course, but
that one of never-ending descent outweighed them all for a time.  As we
got lower the temperature increased; then perspiration broke out.  Never
having practised on the treadmill, my muscles ere long began to feel the
unwonted exercise, and I thought to myself, "If you are in this state so
soon, what will you be when you get to the bottom, and how will you get
up again?"

At this point we reached the foot of another ladder, and Captain Jan
said, "We'll walk a bit in the level here and then go down the
pump-shaft."  The change of posture and action in the level we had now
entered was agreeable, but the path was not a good one.  It was an old,
low, and irregular level, with a rugged floor full of holes with water
in them, and with projections in the roof that rendered frequent
stooping necessary.  The difficulty of one's progress in such places is
that, while you are looking out for your head, you stumble into the
holes, and when the holes claim attention you run your head against the
roof; but, thanks to the miner's hat, no evil follows.

We were now in a region of profound _silence_!  When we paused for a
minute to rest, it felt as if the silence of the tomb itself had
surrounded us--for not the faintest echo reached us from the world
above, and the miners at work below us were still far down out of
ear-shot.  In a few seconds we came to a yawning hole in the path,
bridged by a single plank.  Captain Jan crossed.  "How deep is it?"  I
asked, preparing to follow.  "About 60 feet," said he, "it's a winze,
and goes down to the next level!"

I held my breath and crossed with caution.

"Are there many winzes, Captain Jan?"

"Yes, dozens of 'em.  There are nigh 40 miles of levels and lots of
winzes everywhere!"

The possibility of anything happening to Captain Jan, and my light
getting blown out occurred to me, but I said nothing.  When we had
walked a quarter of a mile in this level, we came to the point where it
entered the pump-shaft.  The shaft itself was narrow--about 8 or 10 feet
in diameter--but everything in it was ponderous and gigantic.  The
engine that drove the pump was 70 horse power; the pump-rod was a
succession of wooden beams, each like the ridge-pole of a house, jointed
together--a rugged affair, with iron bolts, and nuts, and projections at
the joints.  In this shaft the kibbles were worked.  These kibbles are
iron buckets by which ore is conveyed to the surface.  Two are worked
together by a chain--one going up full while the other comes down empty.
Both are free to clatter about the shaft and bang against each other in
passing, but they are prevented from damaging the pump-rod by a wooden
partition.  Between this partition and the pump was the ladder we had
now to descend, with just space for a man to pass.

Captain Jan got upon it, and as he did so the pump went up, (a sweep of
10 or 12 feet), with a deep watery gurgle, as if a giant were being
throttled.  As I got upon the ladder the pump came down with another
gurgle, close to my shoulder in passing.  To avoid this I kept close to
the planks on the other side, but at that moment I heard a noise as if
of distant thunder.  "It's only the kibbles," said Captain Jan.

Up came one and down went the other, passing each other with a dire
crash, not far from where we stood, and causing me to shrink into the
smallest possible space.  "There's no danger," said the Captain
encouragingly, "if you only keep cool and hold on."  Water was coursing
freely down the shaft and spirting over us in fine spray, so that, ere
long, we were as wet and dirty as any miner in Botallack.  At last we
reached the 120 fathom level, 720 feet from "grass."

Here the Captain told me men were at work not far off and he wished to
visit them.  "Would I wait where I was until he returned?"

"What!" said I, "wait in a draughty level with an extinguishable candle
close to the main shaft, with 30 or 40 miles of levels around, and no
end of winzes?  No, no, Captain Jan, go on; I'll stick to you _now_
through thick and thin like your own shadow!"

With one of his benignant smiles the captain resumed his progress.  In a
few minutes I heard the clink of hammers, and, soon after, came to a
singular cavern.  It was a place where the lode had been very wide and
rich.  Years before it had been all cut away from level to level,
leaving a void space so high and deep that the rays of our candles were
lost in obscurity.  We walked through it in mid-air, as it were,
supported on cross beams with planks laid thereon.  Beyond this we came
to a spot where a number of miners were at work in various places and
positions.

One, a big, broad-shouldered man named Dan, was seated on a wooden box
hammering at the rock with tremendous energy.  With him Captain Jan
conversed a few minutes on the appearance of the lode, and then
whispered to me, "A good specimen of a man that, sir, and he's got an
uncommon large family,"--then, turning to the man--"I say, Dan, you've
got a biggish family, haven't you?"

"Iss, a'w iss, Cap'n Jan, I've a braave lot o' child'n."

"How many have you had altogether, Dan?"

"I've had seventeen, sur, but ten of 'em's gone dead--only seven left.
My brother Jim, though, he's had more than me."

After a few more words we left this man, and, in another place, found
this brother Jim, working in the roof of the level with several others.
They had cut so high up in a slanting direction that they appeared to be
in another chamber, which was brilliantly lighted with their candles.
Jim, stripped naked to the waist, stood on the end of a plank, hammering
violently.  Looking up into his curious burrow, Captain Jan
shouted--"Hallo!  Jim!"

"Hallo, Captain Jan."

"Here's a gentleman wants to know how many children you've had."

"How many child'n, say 'ee?  Why, I've had nineteen, sur, but there's
eleven of 'em gone dead.  Seven of 'em did come in three years and a
half--_three doubles and a single_--but there's only eight of 'em alive
now!"

I afterwards found that, although this man and his brother were
exceptions, the miners generally had very large families.

While we were talking, a number of shots were heard going off in various
directions.  This was explained by Captain Jan.  All the forenoon the
miners employ their time in boring and charging the blast-holes.  About
mid-day they fire them and then hasten to a clear part of the mine to
eat luncheon and smoke their pipes while the gunpowder smoke clears
away.  This it does very slowly, taking sometimes more than an hour to
clear sufficiently so as to let the men resume work.

Immediately after the shots were heard, the men began to assemble.  They
emerged from the gloom on all sides like red hobgoblins--wet and
perspiring.  Some walked out of darkness from either end of the level;
some stalked out from diverging levels; others slid, feet first, from
holes in the roof and sides, and some rose, head-foremost, from yawning
gulfs in the floor.  They all saluted Captain Jan as they came up, and
each stuck his candle against the wall and sat down on a heap of wet
rubbish, to lunch.  Some had Cornish pasty, and others a species of
heavy cake--so heavy that the fact of their being able to carry it at
all said much for their digestive organs--but most of them ate plain
bread, and all of them drank water which had been carried down from the
realms of light in little canteens.  Frugal though the fare was, it
sufficed to brace them for the rest of the day's work.

After a short talk with these men Captain Jan and I continued our
descent of the ladders--down we went, ever downwards, until at last we
reached the very bottom of that part of the mine--1230 feet below the
surface.

Here we found only two men at work, with whom Captain Jan conversed for
a time while we rested, and then proceeded to ascend "to grass" by the
same ladder-ways.  If I felt that the descent was like never getting to
the bottom, much more did the ascent seem like never getting to the top!

I may remark here that the bottom which we had reached was not the
bottom under the sea.  At another time Captain Jan took me to that
submarine cavern where, as I have said, no sound ever reaches the ear
from the world above.  There is, however, a level close under the sea
where the roar of Ocean is distinctly heard.  It is in a part of
Botallack Mine named Wheal Cock.  It was very rich in copper ore, and
the miners worked at the roof of it so vigorously, that they began to
fear it would give way.  One of them, therefore, in order to ascertain
what thickness of solid rock still lay between them and the sea, bored a
small hole upwards, and advanced about three feet or so before the water
rushed in.  Of course they had a wooden plug ready and stopped up the
hole.  But, as it was dangerous to cut away any more of the roof, they
were finally obliged unwillingly to forsake that part of the mine.

This occurred some thirty years before my visit, yet when I went to see
the place, I found the wooden plug still hard and fast in the hole and
quite immoveable.  As I stood and listened I could well understand the
anxiety of the miners, for at the upward rush of each wave, I could hear
the rattle of the boulders overhead, like monster cannon balls, and a
repetition of the thunder when the waves retreated.

On our way up the ladders we stopped several times to rest.  At such
times Captain Jan related various anecdotes illustrative of mining life.

"This is a place," said he, on one occasion, "which reminds me of a man
who was always ready to go in for dangerous work.  His name was Old
Maggot.  He was not really old, but he had a son named after himself,
and his friends had to distinguish him from the young Maggot."

So saying, Captain Jan trimmed his candle with nature's own pair of
snuffers--the finger and thumb--and proceeded as follows:

"Some time ago the miners in Botallack came to an old deserted mine that
was full of water--this is what miners call a `_house of water_.'  The
ore there was rich, but the men were afraid to work it lest they should
come suddenly on the old mine and break a hole through to it--in other
words `_hole to that house of water_.'  They stopped working at last,
and no one seemed willing to run the risk of driving the hole and
letting out the water.  In this difficulty they appealed to Old Maggot,
who at once agreed to do it.  The old mine was about three-quarters of a
mile back from the sea-shore, but at that time it could only be got at
by entering the _adit_ level from the shore.  It was through this level
that the water would have to escape.  At the mouth of it a number of men
assembled to see Old Maggot go in.  In he went, alone, with a bunch of
candles, and, as he walked along, he stuck a lighted candle every here
and there against the wall to light him out,--for he expected to have to
run for it.

"When he came to the place, the water was spirting out everywhere.  But
Old Maggot didn't mind.  He grasped his hammer and borer and began.  The
work was done sooner than he had expected!  Suddenly the rock gave way
and the water burst upon him, putting out his candle and turning him
heels over head.  He jumped up and tried to run, but the flood rose on
him, carried him off his legs, swept him right through the level, and
hurled him through the adit-mouth at last, upon the sea-shore!  He was
stunned a little, but soon recovered, and, beyond a few bruises and a
wetting, was nothing the worse of his adventure.

"_That_," said Captain Jan, pointing to the rock beside us, "was the
place where Old Maggot holed to the house of water, and _this_ was the
level through which he was washed and through part of which I will now
conduct you."

Accordingly, we traversed the level, and, coming to another shaft,
continued our upward progress.

While we were slowly toiling up, step by step, we were suddenly arrested
by the sound of voices singing in the far distance above us.  The music
was slow and solemn.  Coming as it did so unexpectedly in such a strange
place, it sounded quite magical and inexpressibly sweet.

"Miners descending to work," said my guide, as we listened.  The air was
familiar to me, and, as it grew louder and louder, I recognised that
beautiful tune called "French," to which we are accustomed to sing the
121st Psalm, "I to the hills will lift mine eyes."  Gradually the men
came down to us.  We stood on one side.  As they passed they ceased
singing and nodded to Captain Jan.  There were five or six stout fellows
and a boy.  The latter was as active as his companions, and his treble
voice mingled tunefully with theirs as they continued the descent, and
resumed the psalm, keeping time to the slow measured tread of their
steps.  We watched until their lights disappeared, and then resumed our
upward way, while the sweet strains grew fainter and fainter, until they
were gradually lost in the depths below.  The pleasant memory of that
psalm still remained with me, when I emerged from the ladder-shaft of
Botallack mine, and--after having been five hours underground--once more
drank in, (with a new and intensified power of appreciation), the fresh
air of heaven and the blessed influences of green fields and sunshine.

To many a weird and curious part of the great mine did the obliging
Captain Jan lead me, but perhaps the most interesting part was the
lowest depth under the sea, to which my wife accompanied us.  This part
is reached by the Boscawen shaft, a sloping one which the men descend in
an iron car or gig.  The car is let down and hauled up by an iron rope.
Once this rope broke, the car flew to the bottom, was dashed against the
rock, and all the men--eight in number--were killed.

In 1865 the Prince and Princess of Wales descended this shaft, and
Captain Jan was their amiable, not to say eccentric, guide.  The Captain
was particularly enthusiastic in praise of the Princess.  He said that
she was a "fine intelligent young lady; that she asked no end of
questions, would not rest until she understood everything, and
afterwards undertook to explain it all to her less-informed companions."
A somewhat amusing incident occurred while they were underground.

When about to begin his duty as guide it suddenly flashed across the
mind of poor Captain Jan that, in the excitement of the occasion, he had
forgotten to take gloves with him.  He was about to lead the Princess by
the hand over the rugged floors of the levels.  To offer to do so
without gloves was not to be thought of.  To procure gloves 200 fathoms
below the sea was impossible.  To borrow from the Prince or the Duke of
Sutherland, who were of the party, was out of the question.  What was he
to do?  Suddenly he remembered that he had a newspaper in his pocket.
In desperation he wrapped his right hand in a piece of this, and, thus
covered, held it out to the Princess.  She, innocently supposing that
the paper was held up to be looked at, attempted to read.  This
compelled Captain Jan to explain himself, whereupon she burst into a
hearty fit of laughter, and, flinging away the paper, took the ungloved
hand of the loyal but bashful miner.



CHAPTER SIX.

THE LAND OF THE VIKINGS.

To this romantic land of mountain and flood I paid four visits at
various times.  These were meant as holiday and fishing rambles, but
were also utilised to gather material for future books.

Norway, as every one knows, was the land of the ancient Vikings--those
grand old rascally freebooters--whose indomitable pluck carried them in
their open galleys, (little better than big boats), all round the coasts
of Europe, across the unknown sea to Iceland, and even to the shores of
America itself, before the other nations dreamed of such a continent,
and long before Columbus was born; who possessed a literature long
before we did; whose blood we Britons carry in our veins; and from whom
we have inherited many of our best laws, much of our nautical
enterprise, and not a little of our mischief and pugnacity.

Norway, too, is the land where Liberty once found refuge in distress,--
that much abused goddess, whom, since the fall of Adam and Eve, License
has been endeavouring to defame, and Tyranny to murder, but who is still
alive and kicking--ay, and will continue to kick and flourish in spite
of all her enemies!  Liberty found a home, and a rough welcome, strange
to say, among those pagans of the North, at a time when she was banished
from every other spot, even from the so-called Christian states in
Europe.

No wonder that that grand old country with its towering snow-clad
mountains, its mighty fords, its lonesome glens and its historical
memories should be styled "_gamle Norge_" (old Norway--as we speak of
old England), with feelings of affection by its energetic and now
peaceful inhabitants.

I was privileged to go to Norway as one of a yachting party.  There were
twelve of us altogether, three ladies, three gentlemen, and a crew of
six sailors.  Our object was to see the land and take what of amusement,
discomfort, or otherwise might chance to come in our way.  We had a
rough passage over, and were very sick, sailors included! except the
captain, an old Scotch highlander who may be described as a compound of
obstinacy and gutta-percha.  It took us four days to cross.  We studied
the Norse language till we became sea-sick, wished for land till we got
well, then resumed the study of Norse until we sighted the outlying
islands and finally cast anchor in the quaint old city and port of
Bergen.

Now, it is well to admit at once that some of us were poor linguists;
but it is only just to add that we could not be expected to learn much
of any language in four days during intervals of internal derangement!
However, it is curious to observe how very small an amount of Norse will
suffice for ordinary travellers--especially for Scotchmen.  The Danish
language is the vernacular tongue of Norway and there is a strong
affinity between Danish, (or Norse), and broad Scotch.  Roughly
speaking, I should say that a mixture of three words of Norse to two of
broad Scotch, with a powerful emphasis and a strong infusion of
impudence, will carry you from the Naze to the North Cape in perfect
comfort.

Bergen is a most interesting city, and our party had many small
adventures in it, which, however, I will not touch on here.  But one
scene--the fish-market--must not be passed over.

There must certainly be something in the atmosphere of a fish-market
which tends to call forth the mental and physical energies of mankind,
(perhaps I should rather say of _womankind_), and which calls forth a
tremendous flow of abusive language.  Billingsgate is notorious, but I
think that the Bergen fish-market beats it hollow.  One or two phases of
the national character are there displayed in perfection.  It is the
Billingsgate of Norway--the spot where Norse females are roused to a
pitch of frenzy that is not equalled, I believe, in any other country.

There are one or two peculiarities about the Bergen market, too, which
are noteworthy, and which account in some degree for the frantic
excitement that reigns there.  The sellers of the fish, in the first
place, are not women but men.  The pier and fleet of boats beside it
constitute the market-place.  The fishermen row their cargoes of fish
direct from the sea to the pier, and there transact sales.  There is a
stout iron railing along the edge of that pier--a most needful
safeguard--over which the servant girls of the town lean and look down
at the fishermen, who look up at them with a calm serio-comic
"don't-you-wish-you-may-get-it" expression that is deeply impressive.
Bargains, of course, are not easily made, and it is in attempting to
make these that all the hubbub occurs.  The noise is all on the women's
side.  The men, secure in their floating position, and certain of
ultimate success, pay very little attention to the flaxen-haired,
blue-eyed damsels who shout at them like maniacs, waving their arms,
shaking their fists, snapping their fingers, and flourishing their
umbrellas!  They all carry umbrellas--cotton ones--of every colour in
the rainbow, chiefly pink and sky-blue, for Bergen is celebrated as
being the most rainy city in Europe.

The shouting of the girls is not only a safety-valve to their feelings,
but is absolutely necessary in order to attract the attention of the
men.  As 15 or 20 of them usually scream at once, it is only she who
screams loudest and flourishes her umbrella most vigorously that can
obtain a hearing.  The calm unruffled demeanour of the men is as much a
feature in the scene as is the frenzy of the women.

During one of my visits I saw a fisherman there who was the most
interesting specimen of cool impudence I ever encountered.  He wore a
blue coat, knee-breeches, white worsted stockings, and on his head of
long yellow hair a red night-cap with a tall hat on top of all.  When I
discovered him he was looking up with a grave sarcastic expression into
the flushed countenance of a stout, blue-eyed lass who had just eagerly
offered him _syv skillings_ (seven skillings), for a lot of fish.  That
was about 3 and a half pence, the skilling being half a penny.  The man
had declined by look, not by tongue, and the girl began to grow angry.

"Haere du, fiskman," (hear you, fisherman), she cried, "vil du har otte
skillings?"  (will you have eight skillings?)

The fisherman turned away and gazed out to sea.  The girl grew crimson
in the face at this.

"Fiskman, fiskman!" she cried, "vil du har _ni_ (nine) skillings?"

The fisherman kicked out of the way a lobster that was crawling too near
his naked toes, and began to bale out the boat.  The girl now seemed to
become furious.  Her blue eyes flashed like those of a tiger.  She
gasped for breath, while her cotton umbrella flashed over the
fisherman's head like a pink meteor.  Had that umbrella been only a foot
longer the tall black hat would have come to grief undoubtedly.
Suddenly she paused, and in a tone of the deepest solemnity, said--

"Haere du, fiskman, vil du har ti (ten) shillings?"

The rock of Gibraltar is not more unyielding than was that "fiskman."
He took off his hat, removed his night-cap, smoothed his yellow hair,
and wiped his forehead; then, replacing the cap and hat, he thrust both
hands into his coat pockets, turned his back on the entire market, and
began to whistle.

This was too much!  It was past female endurance!  The girl turned
round, scattered the bystanders right and left, and fled as if she had
resolved then and there to dash out her brains on the first post she
met, and so have done with men and fish for ever.  But she was not done
with them yet!  The spell was still upon her.  Ere she had got a dozen
yards away she paused, stood one moment in uncertainty, and then rushing
back forced her way to the old position, and shouted in a tone that
might have moved the hearts even of the dead fish--

"Fiskman, here du, vil du hav tolve?"

"Tolve" (or twelve) skillings was apparently not quite the sum he meant
to take; but he could hold out no longer--he wavered--and the instant
man wavers, woman's victory is gained!  Smiling benignly he handed up
the fish to the girl, and held out his baling dish for the money.

The storm was over!  The girl walked off in triumph with her fish, not a
trace of her late excitement visible, the pink cotton umbrella tucked
under her arm, and her face beaming with the consciousness of having
conquered a "_fiskman_" in fair and open fight!

Steamers ply regularly between the north and south of Norway in summer,
and an excursion in one of these is very enjoyable, not only on account
of the scenery, but because of the opportunity afforded of making the
acquaintance of the people.  I once made a voyage in one of those
steamers from the Nordfjord to Bergen, and one thing struck me very
particularly on that occasion, namely, the _quietness_ that seemed to be
cultivated by the people as if it were a virtue.  I do not mean to say
that the passengers and crew were taciturn--far from it.  They bustled
about actively; they were quite sociable and talkative, but no voice was
ever raised to a loud pitch.  Even the captain gave his orders in a
quiet tone.  Whether this quietness of demeanour is peculiar to
Norwegian steamers in general, or was a feature of this steamer in
particular, I am not prepared to say.  I can only state the fact of the
prevailing quietude on that particular occasion without pretending to
explain it.

The state of quiescence culminated at the dinner-table, for there the
silence was total!  I never saw anything like it!  When we had all
assembled in the cabin, at the almost whispered invitation of the
steward, and had stood for a few minutes looking benign and expectant,
but not talking, the captain entered, bowed to the company, was bowed to
by the company, motioned us to our seats, whispered "_ver so goot_," and
sat down.

Now this phrase "_ver so goot_" merits particular notice.  It is an
expression that seems to me capable of extension and distension.  It is
a flexible, comfortable, jovial, rollicking expression.  To give a
perfect translation of it is not easy; but I cannot think of a better
way of conveying its meaning, than by saying that it is a compound of
the phrases--"be so good," "by your leave," "what's your will," "bless
your heart," "all serene," and "that's your sort!"

The first of these, "be so good," is the literal translation--the others
are the super-induced sentiments, resulting from the tone and manner in
which it is said.  You may rely on it, that, when a Norwegian offers you
anything and says _ver so goot_, he means you well and hopes you will
make yourself comfortable.

Well, there was no carving at that dinner.  The dishes were handed round
by waiters.  First we had very thin rice soup with wine and raisins in
it--the eating of which seemed to me like spoiling one's dinner with a
bad pudding.  This finished, the plates were removed.  "_Now_," thought
I, "surely some one will converse with his neighbour during this
interval."  No! not a lip moved!  I looked at my right and left-hand
men; I thought, for a moment, of venturing out upon the unknown deep of
a foreign tongue, and cleared my throat for that purpose, but every eye
was on me in an instant; and the sound of my own voice, even in that
familiar process, was so appalling that I said nothing!  I looked at a
pretty girl opposite me.  I felt certain that the youth beside her was
about to speak--he looked as if he meant to, but he didn't.  In a few
minutes the next course came on.  This was a dish like bread-pudding,
minus currants and raisins; it looked like a sweet dish, but it turned
out to be salt,--and pure melted butter, without any admixture of flour
or water, was handed round as sauce.  After this came veal and beef
cutlets, which were eaten with cranberry jam, pickles, and potatoes.
Fourth and last came a course of cold sponge-cake, with almonds and
raisins stewed over it, so that, when we had eaten the cake as a sort of
cold pudding, we slid, naturally and pleasantly, into dessert, without
the delay of a change of plates.

There was no remaining to drink at that dinner.  When the last knife and
fork were laid down, we all rose simultaneously, and then a general
process of bowing ensued.

In regard to this proceeding I have never been able to arrive at a clear
understanding, as to what was actually done or intended to be done, but
my impression is, that each bowed to the other, and all bowed to the
captain; then the captain bowed to each individually and to all
collectively, after which a comprehensive bow was made by everybody to
all the rest all round--and then we went on deck to smoke.  As each
guest passed out, he or she said to the captain, "_tak for mad_," which
is a manner and custom, and means "_thanks for meat_."  With the
exception of these three words, not a single syllable, to the best of my
belief, was uttered by any one during the whole course of that meal!

Of course the gentlemen of our party performed many wonderful exploits
in fishing, for sea-trout and salmon abound in Norway, and the river
beds are very rugged.

In that land fishing cannot be styled the "gentle art."  It is a
tearing, wearing, rasping style of work.  An account of the catching of
one fish will prove this.

One morning I had gone off to fish by myself, with a Norwegian youth to
gaff and carry the fish.  Coming to a sort of weir, with a deep pool
above and a riotous rapid below, I put on a salmon fly and cast into the
pool.  At once a fish rose and was hooked.  It was not a big one--only
12 pounds or thereabouts--but quite big enough to break rod and line if
not played respectfully.

For some time, as is usual with salmon, he rushed about the pool, leaped
out of the water, and bored up stream.  Then he took to going down
stream steadily.  Now this was awkward, for when a fish of even that
size resolves to go down stream, nothing can stop him.  My efforts were
directed to turning him before he reached the rapid, for, once into
that, I should be compelled to follow him or break the line--perhaps the
rod also.

At last he reached the head of the rapid.  I put on a heavy strain.  The
rod bent like a hoop and finally began to crack, so I was compelled to
let him go.

At the lower end of the pool there was a sort of dam, along which I ran,
but soon came to the end of it, where it was impossible to reach the
shore owing to the dense bushes which overhung the stream.  But the fish
was now in the rapid and was forced down by the foaming water.  Being
very unwilling to break the line or lose the fish, I went slowly into
the rapid until the water reached the top of my long wading boots--
another step and it was over them, but that salmon would not--indeed
could not--stop.  The water filled my boots at once, and felt very cold
at first, but soon became warm, and each boot was converted into a
warmish bath, in which the legs felt reasonably comfortable.

I was reckless now, and went on, step by step, until I was up to the
waist, then to the arm-pits, and then I spread out one arm and swam off
while with the other I held up the rod.

The rapid was strong but deep, so that nothing obstructed me till I
reached the lower end, when a rock caught my legs and threw me into a
horizontal position, with the rod flat on the water.  I was thrown
against the bank, where my Norwegian boy was standing mouth open, eyes
blazing, and hand extended to help me out.

When I stood panting on the bank, I found that the fish was still on and
still inclined to descend, but I found that I could not follow, for my
legs were heavy as lead--the boots being full of water.  To take the
latter off in a hurry and empty them was impossible.  To think of losing
the fish after all was maddening.  Suddenly a happy thought struck me.
Handing the rod to the boy I lay down on my back, cocked my legs in the
air, and the water ran like a deluge out at the back of my neck!  Much
relieved, I resumed the rod, but now I found that the fish had taken to
sulking.

This sulking is very perplexing, for the fish bores its nose into some
deep spot below a stone, and refuses to budge.  Pulling him this way and
that way had no effect.  Jerking him was useless.  Even throwing stones
at him was of no avail.  I know not how long he kept me there, but at
last I lost patience, and resolved to force him out, or break the line.
But the line was so good and strong that it caused the rod to show
symptoms of giving way.

Just then it struck me that as there were several posts of an old weir
in the middle of the stream, he must have twisted the line round one of
these, broken himself off and left me attached to it!  I made up my mind
therefore to wade out to the old weir, and unwind the line, and gave the
rod to the boy to hold while I did so.

The water was deep.  It took me nearly up to the neck before I reached
the shallow just above the posts, but, being thoroughly wet, that did
not matter.

On reaching the post, and unwinding the line, I found to my surprise
that the fish was still there.  At first I thought of letting go the
line, and leaving the boy to play him; "but," thought I, "the boy will
be sure to lose him," so I held on to the line, and played it with my
hands.  Gradually the fish was tired out.  I drew him slowly to my side,
and gaffed him in four feet of water.

Even then I was not sure of him, for when I got him under one arm he
wriggled violently, so that it was difficult to wade ashore with him.
In this difficulty I took him to a place where the shoal in the middle
of the stream was about three inches deep.  There I lay down on him,
picked up a stone and hammered his head with it, while the purling water
rippled pleasantly over my face.

The whole of this operation took me upwards of two hours.  It will be
seen, therefore, that fishing in Norway, as I have said, cannot be
called "the gentle art."

One extremely interesting excursion that we made was to a place named
the Esse Fjord.  The natives here were very hospitable and kind.
Besides that, they were fat!  It would almost seem as if fat and
good-humour were invariably united; for nearly all the natives of the
Esse Fjord were good-humoured and stout!

The language at this place perplexed me not a little.  Nevertheless the
old proverb, "where there's a will there's a way," held good, for the
way in which I conversed with the natives of that region was astounding
even to myself.

One bluff, good-humoured fellow took me off to see his house and family.
I may as well admit, here, that I am not a good linguist, and usually
left our ladies to do the talking!  But on this occasion I found myself,
for the first time, alone with a Norwegian! fairly left to my own
resources.

Well, I began by stringing together all the Norse I knew, (which wasn't
much), and endeavoured to look as if I knew a great deal more.  But I
soon found that the list of sentences, which I had learned from Murray's
_Handbook_, did not avail much in a lengthened conversation.  My speech
quickly degenerated into sounds that were almost unintelligible to
either my new friend or myself! and I terminated at last in a mixture of
bad Norse and broad Scotch.  I have already remarked on the strong
family-likeness between Norse and broad Scotch.  Here are a few
specimens.

They call a cow a _coo_!  A house is a _hoose_, and a mouse is a
_moose_!  _Gaae til land_, is go to land, or go ashore.  _Tak ain stole_
is take a stool, or sit down.  Vil du tak am dram? scarcely needs
translation--will you take a dram! and the usual answer to that question
is equally clear and emphatic--"Ya, jeg vil tak am dram!"  One day our
pilot saw the boat of a fisherman, (or fiskman), not far off.  He knew
we wanted fish, so, putting his hands to his mouth, he shouted "Fiskman!
har du fisk to sell?"  If you talk of bathing, they will advise you to
"dook oonder;" and should a mother present her baby to you, she will
call it her "smook barn"--her pretty bairn--smook being the Norse word
for "pretty," and _barn_ for child; and it is a curious fact, worthy of
particular note, that all the mothers in Norway think their bairns
smook--very smook! and they never hesitate to tell you so--why, I cannot
imagine, unless it be that if you were not told you would not be likely
to find it out for yourself.

Despite our difficulty of communication, my fat friend and I soon became
very amicable and talkative.  He told me no end of stories, of which I
did not comprehend a sentence, but looked as if I did--smiled, nodded my
head, and said "ya, ya,"--to which he always replied "ya, ya,"--waving
his arms, and slapping his breast, and rolling his eyes, as he bustled
along beside me towards his dwelling.  The house was perched on a rock
close to the water's edge.  Here my host found another subject to
expatiate upon and dance round, in the shape of his own baby, a soft,
smooth, little imitation of himself, which lay sleeping in its crib,
like a small cupid.  The man was evidently extremely fond of this
infant.  He went quite into ecstasies about it; now gazing at it with
looks of pensive admiration; anon, starting and looking at me as if to
say, "_Did you ever, in all your life, see such a beautiful cherub_?"
The man's enthusiasm was really catching--I began to feel quite a
fatherly interest in the cherub myself.

"Oh!" he cried, in rapture, "det er smook barn!"

"Ya, ya," said I, "megit smook," (very pretty)--although I must confess
that _smoked_ bairn would have been nearer the mark, for it was as brown
as a red-herring.

I spent an agreeable, though I must confess mentally confused, afternoon
with this gentleman, who, (when he succeeded in tearing himself away
from that much-loved and megit smook barn), introduced me to his two
sisters, who were stout and good-humoured like himself.  They treated me
to a cup of excellent coffee, and to a good deal more of
incomprehensible conversation.  Altogether, the natives of the Esse
Fjord made a deep impression on us, and we parted from their grand and
gloomy but hospitable shores with much regret.

I had hoped, good reader, to have jotted down some more of my personal
reminiscences of travel--in Algiers, the "Pirate City," at the Cape of
Good Hope, and elsewhere--but bad health is not to be denied, and I find
that I must hold my hand.

Perchance this may be no misfortune, for possibly the "garrulity of age"
is descending on me!

Before closing this sketch, however, I would say briefly, that in all my
writings I have always tried--how far successfully I know not--to
advance the cause of Truth and Light, and to induce my readers to put
their trust in the love of God our Saviour, for this life as well as the
life to come.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE BURGLARS AND THE PARSON.

A Country mansion in the south of England.  The sun rising over a
laurel-hedge, flooding the ivy-covered walls with light, and blazing in
at the large bay-window of the dining-room.

"Take my word for it, Robin, if ever this 'ouse is broke into, it will
be by the dinin'-room winder."

So spake the gardener of the mansion--which was also the parsonage--to
his young assistant as they passed one morning in front of the window in
question.  "For why?" he continued; "the winder is low, an' the catches
ain't overstrong, an there's no bells on the shutters, an' it lies handy
to the wall o' the back lane."

To this Robin made no response, for Robin was young and phlegmatic.  He
was also strong.

The gardener, Simon by name, was not one of the prophets--though in
regard to the weather and morals he considered himself one--but if any
person had chanced to overhear the conversation of two men seated in a
neighbouring public-house that morning, that person would have inclined
to give the gardener credit for some sort of second sight.

"Bill," growled one of the said men, over his beer, in a low, almost
inaudible tone, "I've bin up to look at the 'ouse, an' the dinin'-room
winder'll be as easy to open as a door on the latch.  I had a good look
at it."

"You are the man for cheek an' pluck," growled the other man, over his
beer, with a glance of admiration at his comrade.  "How ever did you
manage it, Dick?"

"The usual way, in course.  Comed it soft over the 'ousemaid; said I was
a gardener in search of a job, an' would she mind tellin' me where the
head-gardener was?  You see, Bill, I had twigged him in front o' the
'ouse five minutes before.  `I don't know as he's got any odd jobs to
give 'ee,' says she; `but he's in the front garden at this minute.  If
you goes round, you'll find him.'  `Hall right, my dear,' says I; an'
away I goes right round past the dinin'-room winder, where I stops an'
looks about, like as if I was awful anxious to find somebody.  In coorse
I glanced in, an' saw the fastenin's.

"They couldn't keep out a babby!  Sideboard all right at the t'other
end, with a lookin'-glass over it--to help folk, I fancy, to see what
they look like w'en they're a-eatin' their wittles.  Anyhow, it helped
me to see the gardener comin' up one o' the side walks; so I wheels
about double quick, an' looked pleased to see him.

"`Hallo!' cries he.

"`I was lookin' for you,' says I, quite easy like.

"`Did you expect to find me in the dinin'-room?' says he.

"`Not just that,' says I, `but it's nat'ral for a feller to look at a
'andsome room w'en he chances to pass it.'

"`Ah,' says he, in a sort o' way as I didn't quite like.  `What d'ee
want wi' me?'

"`I wants a job,' says I.

"`Are you a gardener?' he axed.

"`Yes--leastwise,' says I, `I've worked a goodish bit in gardings in my
time, an' can turn my 'and to a'most anythink.'

"`Oh,' says he.  `Look 'ere, my man, what d'ee call that there tree?'
He p'inted to one close alongside.

"`That?' says I.  `Well, it--it looks uncommon like a happle.'

"`Do it?' says he.  `Now look 'ere, you be off as fast as your legs can
take you, or I'll set the 'ousedog at 'ee.'

"W'en he said that, Bill, I do assure you, lad, that my experience in
the ring seemed to fly into my knuckles, an' it was as much as ever I
could do to keep my left off his nob and my right out of his
breadbasket.  But I restrained myself.  If there's one thing I'm proud
of, Bill, it's the wirtue o' self-restraint in the way o' business.  I
wheeled about, held up my nose, an' walked off wi' the air of a dook.
You see, I didn't want for to have no more words wi' the gardener,--for
why? because I'd seen all I wanted to see--d'ee see?  But there was
one--no, two--things I saw which it was as well I did see."

"An' what was they?" asked Bill.

"Two statters."

"An' what are statters?"

"Man alive I don't ye know?  It's them things that they make out o'
stone, an' marable, an' chalk--sometimes men, sometimes women, sometimes
babbies, an' mostly with no clo'es on to speak of--"

"Oh!  I know; but _I_ call 'em statoos.  Fire away, Dick; what see'd you
about the statoos?"

"Why, I see'd that they wasn't made in the usual way of stone or chalk,
but of iron.  I have heerd say that sodgers long ago used to fight in
them sort o' dresses, though I don't believe it myself.  Anyhow, there
they was, the two of 'em, one on each side of the winder, that stiff
that they could stand without nobody inside of 'em, an' one of 'em with
a big thing on his shoulder, as if he wor ready to smash somebody over
the head.  I thought to myself if you an' me, Bill, had come on 'em
unbeknown like, we'd ha' got such a start as might have caused us to
make a noise.  But I hadn't time to think much, for it was just then I
got sight o' the gardener."

"Now my plan is," continued Dick, swigging off his beer, and lowering
his voice to a still more confidential tone, as he looked cautiously
round, "my plan is to hang about here till dark, then take to the
nearest plantation, an' wait till the moon goes down, which will be
about two o'clock i' the mornin'--when it will be about time for us to
go in and win."

"All right," said Bill, who was not loquacious.

But Bill was mistaken, for it was all wrong.

There was indeed no one in the public at that early hour of the day to
overhear the muttered conversation of the plotters, and the box in which
they sat was too remote from the bar to permit of their words being
overheard, but there was a broken pane of glass in a window at their
elbow, with a seat outside immediately below it.  Just before the
burglars entered the house they had observed this seat, and noticed that
no one was on it; but they failed to note that a small, sleepy-headed
pot-boy lay at full length underneath it, basking in the sunshine and
meditating on nothing--that is, nothing in particular.

At first little Pat paid no attention to the monotonous voices that
growled softly over his head, but one or two words that he caught
induced him to open his eyes very wide, rise softly from his lair and
sit down on the seat, cock one ear intelligently upward, and remain so
absolutely motionless that Dick, had he seen him, might have mistaken
him for a very perfect human "statter."

When little Pat thought that he had heard enough, he slid off the seat,
crawled close along the side of the house, doubled round the corner,
rose up, and ran off towards the parsonage as fast as his little legs
could go.

The Reverend Theophilus Stronghand was a younger son of a family so old
that those families which "came over with the Conqueror" were mere
moderns in comparison.  Its origin, indeed, is lost in those mists of
antiquity which have already swallowed up so many millions of the human
race, and seem destined to go on swallowing, with ever-increasing
appetite, to the end of time.  The Stronghands were great warriors--of
course.  They could hardly have developed into a family otherwise.  The
Reverend Theophilus, however, was a man of peace.  We do not say this to
his disparagement.  He was by no means a degenerate son of the family.
Physically he was powerful, broad and tall, and his courage was high;
but spiritually he was gentle, and in manner urbane.  He drew to the
church as naturally as a duck draws to the water, and did not by any
means grudge to his elder brothers the army, the navy, and the Bar.

One of his pet theories was, to overcome by love, and he carried this
theory into practice with considerable success.

Perhaps no one put this theory to the test more severely or frequently
than his only son Harry.  War had been that young gentleman's chief joy
in life from the cradle.  He began by shaking his fat fists at the
Universe in general.  War-to-the-knife with nurse was the chronic
condition of a stormy childhood.  Intermittent warfare with his only
sister Emmie chequered the sky of his early boyhood, and a decided
tendency to disobey wrung the soul of his poor mother, and was the cause
of no little anxiety to his father; while mischief, pure and simple for
its own sake, was the cherished object of his life.  Nevertheless, Harry
Stronghand was a lovable boy, and love was the only power that could
sway him.

The lad grew better as he grew older.  Love began to gain the day, and
peace began--slowly at first--to descend on the parsonage; but the
desire for mischief--which the boy named "fun"--had not been quite
dislodged at the time we write of.  As Harry had reached the age of
fifteen, feared nothing, and was quick-witted and ingenious, his
occasional devices not only got him into frequent hot water, but were
the source of some amusement to his people--and he still pretty well
ruled his easy-going father and the house generally with a rod of iron.

It was to Harry Stronghand that little Pat directed his steps, after
overhearing the conversation which we have related.  Pat knew that the
son of the parsonage was a hero, and, in his opinion, the most
intelligent member of the family, and the best fitted to cope with the
facts which he had to reveal.  He met the object of his search on the
road.

"Plaze yer honour," said Pat--who was an Irishman, and therefore
"honoured" everybody--"there's two tramps at the public as is plottin'
to break into your house i' the mornin'."

"You don't mean it, do you?" returned Harry, with a smile and raised
eyebrows.

"That's just what I do, yer honour.  I heard 'em reel off the whole
plan."

Hereupon the boy related all that he knew to the youth, who leaned
against a gate and nodded his curly head approvingly until the story was
finished.

"You've not mentioned this to any one, have you, Pat?"

"Niver a sowl but yersilf, sir."

"You're a sensible boy, Pat.  Here's a shilling for you--and, look here,
Pat, if you keep dark upon the matter till after breakfast to-morrow and
don't open your lips to a living soul about it, I'll give you half a
crown."

"Thank yer honour."

"Now mind--no hints to the police; no remarks to your master.  Be dumb,
in fact, from this moment, else I won't give you a penny."

"Sure I've forgot all about it already, sir," said the boy, with a wink
so expressive that Harry felt his word to be as good as his bond, and
went back to the parsonage laughing.

Arrived there, he went in search of his sister, but found that she was
out.

"Just as well," he muttered, descending to the dining-room with his
hands deep in his pockets, a pleased expression on his handsome mouth,
and a stern frown on his brows.  "It would not be safe to make a
confidant of her in so delicate a matter.  No, I'll do it all alone.
But how to do it?  That is the question.  Shall I invite the aid of the
police?  Perish the thought!  Shall I consult the Pater?  Better not.
The dear, self-devoted man might take it out of my hands altogether."

Harry paused in profound meditation.  He was standing near the window at
the time, with the "statters" on either hand of him.

They were complete suits of armour--one representing a knight in plate
armour, the other a Crusader in chain-mail.  Both had been in the family
since two of the Stronghand warriors had followed Richard of the Lion
Heart to the East.  As the eldest brother of the Reverend Theophilus was
in India, the second was on the deep, and the lawyer was dead, the iron
shells of the ancient warriors had naturally found a resting-place in
the parsonage, along with several family portraits, which seemed to show
that the males of the race were prone to look very stern, and to stand
in the neighbourhood of pillars and red curtains in very dark weather,
while the females were addicted to old lace, scant clothing, and benign
smiles.  One of the warriors stood contemplatively leaning on his sword.
The other rested a heavy mace on his shoulder, as if he still retained
a faint hope that something might turn up to justify his striking yet
one more blow.

"What would you advise, old man?" said Harry, glancing up at the
Crusader with the mace.

The question was put gravely, for, ever since he could walk or do
anything, the boy had amused himself by putting free-and-easy questions
to the suits of armour, or defying them to mortal combat.  As he was
true to ancient friendships, he had acquired the habit of giving the
warriors an occasional nod or word of recognition long after he had
ceased to play with them.

"Shades of my ancestors!" exclaimed Harry with sudden animation, gazing
earnestly at the Crusader on his right, "the very thing!  I'll do it."

That evening, after tea, he went to his father's study.

"May I sit up in the dining-room to-night, father, till two in the
morning?"

"Well, it will puzzle you to do that to-night, my son; but you may if
you have a good reason."

"My reason is that I have a problem--a very curious problem--to work
out, and as I positively shan't be able to sleep until I've done it, I
may just as well sit up as not."

"Do as you please, Harry; I shall probably be up till that hour myself--
if not later--for unexpected calls on my time have prevented the
preparation of a sermon about which I have had much anxious thought of
late."

"Indeed, father!" remarked the son, in a sympathetic tone, on observing
that the Reverend Theophilus passed his hand somewhat wearily over his
brow.  "What may be your text?"

"`Be gentle, showing meekness to all men,'" answered the worthy man,
with an abstracted faraway look, as if he were wrestling in anticipation
with the seventh head.

"Well, good-night, father, and please don't think it necessary to come
in upon me to see how I am getting on.  I never can work out a difficult
problem if there is a chance of interruption."

"All right, my son--good-night."

"H'm," thought Harry, as he returned to the dining-room in a meditative
mood; "I am afraid, daddy, that you'll find it hard to be gentle to
_some_ men to-night!  However, we shall see."

Ringing the bell, he stood with his back to the fire, gazing at the
ceiling.  The summons was answered by the gardener, who also performed
the functions of footman and man-of-all-work at the parsonage.

"Simon, I am going out, and may not be home till late.  I want either
you or Robin to sit up for me."

"Very well, sir."

"And," continued the youth, with an air of offhand gravity, "I shall be
obliged to sit up working well into the morning, so you may have a cup
of strong coffee ready for me.  Wait until I ring for it--perhaps about
two in the morning.  I shall sit in the dining-room, but don't bring it
until I ring.  Mind that, for I can't stand interruption--as you know."

"Yes, sir."

Simon knew his imperious young master too well to make any comment on
his commands.  He returned, therefore, to the kitchen, told the cook of
the order he had received to sit up and take Master Harry's coffee to
him when he should ring, and made arrangements with Robin to sit up and
help him to enliven his vigil with a game of draughts.

Having thus made his arrangements, Harry Stronghand went out to enjoy a
walk.  He was a tremendous walker--thought nothing of twenty or thirty
miles, and rather preferred to walk at night than during the day,
especially when moon and stars were shining.  Perhaps it was a dash of
poetry in his nature that induced this preference.

About midnight he returned, went straight to the dining-room, and,
entering, shut the door, while Simon retired to his own regions and
resumed his game with Robin.

A small fire was burning in the dining-room grate, the flickering flames
of which leaped up occasionally, illuminated the frowning ancestors on
the walls, and gleamed on the armour of the ancient knight and the
Crusader.

Walking up to the latter, Harry looked at him sternly; but as he looked,
his mouth relaxed into a peculiar smile, and displayed his magnificent
teeth as far back as the molars.  Then he went to the window, saw that
the fastenings were right, and drew down the blinds.  He did not think
it needful to close the shutters, but he drew a thick heavy curtain
across the opening of the bay-window, so as to shut it off effectually
from the rest of the room.  This curtain was so arranged that the iron
sentinels were not covered by it, but were left in the room, as it were,
to mount guard over the curtain.

This done, the youth turned again to the Crusader and mounted behind him
on the low pedestal on which he stood.  Unfastening his chain-mail
armour at the back, he opened him up, so to speak, and went in.  The
suit fitted him fairly well, for Harry was a tall, strapping youth for
his years, and when he looked out at the aperture of the headpiece and
smiled grimly, he seemed by no means a degenerate warrior.

Returning to the fireplace, he sat down in an easy chair and buried
himself in a favourite author.

One o'clock struck.  Harry glanced up, nodded pleasantly, as if on
familiar terms with Time, and resumed his author.  The timepiece chimed
the quarters.  This was convenient.  It prevented anxious watchfulness.
The half-hour chimed.  Harry did not move.  Then the three-quarters rang
out in silvery tones.  Thereupon Harry arose, shut up his author, blew
out his light, drew back the heavy curtains, and, returning to the
arm-chair sat down to listen in comparative darkness.

The moon by that time had set and darkness profound had settled down
upon that part of the universe.  The embers in the grate were just
sufficient to render objects in the room barely visible and ghost-like.

Presently there was the slightest imaginable sound near the bay-window.
It might have been the Crusader's ghost, but that was not likely, for at
the moment something very like Harry's ghost flitted across the room and
entered into the warrior.

Again the sound was heard, more decidedly than before.  It was followed
by a sharp click as the inefficient catch was forced back.  Then the
sash began to rise, softly, slowly--an eighth of an inch at a time.
During this process Harry remained invisible and inactive; Paterfamilias
in the study addressed himself to the sixth head of his discourse, and
the gardener with his satellite hung in silent meditation over the
draught-board in the kitchen.

After the sash stopped rising, the centre blind was moved gently to one
side, and the head of Dick appeared with a furtive expression on the
countenance.  For a few seconds his eyes roved around without much
apparent purpose; then, as they became accustomed to the dim light, a
gleam of intelligence shot from them; the rugged head turned to one
side; the coarse mouth turned still more to one side in its effort to
address some one behind, and, in a whisper that would have been hoarse
had it been loud enough, Dick said--

"Hall right, Bill.  We won't need matches.  Keep clear o' the statters
in passin'."

As he spoke, Dick's hobnailed boot appeared, his corduroy leg followed,
and next moment he stood in the room with a menacing look and attitude
and a short thick bludgeon in his knuckly hand.  Bill quickly stood
beside him.  After another cautious look round, the two advanced with
extreme care--each step so carefully taken that the hobnails fell like
rose-leaves on the carpet.  Feeling that the "coast was clear," Dick
advanced with more confidence, until he stood between the ancient
warriors, whose pedestals raised them considerably above his head.

At that moment there was a sharp click, as of an iron hinge.  Dick's
heart seemed to leap into his throat.  Before he could swallow it, the
iron mace of the Crusader descended with stunning violence on his crown.

Well was it for the misguided man that morning that he happened to have
purchased a new and strong billycock the day before, else would that
mace have sent him--as it had sent many a Saracen of old--to his long
home.  The blow effectually spoilt the billycock, however, and stretched
its owner insensible on the floor.

The other burglar was too close behind his comrade to permit of a second
blow being struck.  The lively Crusader, however, sprang upon him, threw
his mailed arms round his neck, and held him fast.

And now began a combat of wondrous ferocity and rare conditions.  The
combatants were unequally matched, for the man was huge and muscular,
while the youth was undeveloped and slender, but what the latter lacked
in brute force was counterbalanced by the weight of his armour, his
youthful agility, and his indomitable pluck.  By a deft movement of his
legs he caused Bill to come down on his back, and fell upon him with all
his weight plus that of the Crusader.  Annoyed at this, and desperately
anxious to escape before the house should be alarmed, Bill delivered a
roundabout blow with his practised fist that ought to have driven in the
skull of his opponent, but it only scarified the man's knuckles on the
Crusader's helmet.  He tried another on the ribs, but the folds of
chain-mail rendered that abortive.  Then the burglar essayed
strangulation, but there again the folds of mail foiled him.  During
these unavailing efforts the unconscious Dick came in for a few
accidental raps and squeezes as he lay prone beside them.

Meanwhile, the Crusader adopted the plan of masterly inactivity, by
simply holding on tight and doing nothing.  He did not shout for help,
because, being bull-doggish in his nature, he preferred to fight in
silent ferocity.  Exasperated as well as worn by this method, Bill
became reckless, and made several wild plunges to regain his feet.  He
did not succeed, but he managed to come against the pedestal of the
knight in mail with great violence.  The iron warrior lost his balance,
toppled over, and came down on the combatants with a hideous crash,
suggestive of coal-scuttles and fire-irons.

Sleep, sermons, and draughts could no longer enchain!  Mrs Stronghand
awoke, buried her startled head in the bed-clothes, and quaked.  Emmie
sprang out of bed and huddled on her clothes, under the impression that
fire-engines were at work.  The Reverend Theophilus leaped up, seized
the study poker and a lamp, and rushed towards the dining-room.
Overturning the draught-board, Simon grasped a rolling-pin, Robin the
tongs, and both made for the same place.  They all collided at the door,
burst it open, and advanced to the scene of war.

It was a strange scene!  Bill and the Crusader, still struggling, were
giving the remains of the other knight a lively time of it, and Dick,
just beginning to recover, was sitting with a dazed look in a sea of
iron debris.

"That's right; hit him hard, father!" cried Harry, trying to look round.

"No, don't, sir," cried the burglar; "I gives in."

"Let my son--let the Crusa--let _him_ go, then," said the Reverend
gentleman, raising his poker.

"I can't, sir, 'cause he won't let _me_ go."

"All right, I'll let you go now," said Harry, unclasping his arms and
rising with a long-drawn sigh.  "Now you.  Come to the light and let's
have a look at you."

So saying, the lad thrust his mailed hand into the burglar's
neckerchief, and assisted by the Reverend Theophilus, led his captive to
the light which had been put on the table.  The gardener and Robin did
the same with Dick.  For one moment it seemed as if the two men
meditated a rush for freedom, for they both glanced at the still open
window, but the stalwart Simon with the rolling-pin and the sturdy Robin
with the tongs stood between them and that mode of exit, while the
Crusader with his mace and huge Mr Stronghand with the study poker
stood on either side of them.  They thought better of it.  "Bring two
chairs here," said the clergyman, in a gentle yet decided tone.

Robin and Harry obeyed--the latter wondering what "the governor was
going to be up to."

"Sit down," said the clergyman, quietly and with much solemnity.

The burglars humbly obeyed.

"Now, my men, I am going to preach you a sermon."

"That's right, father," interrupted Harry, in gleeful surprise.  "Give
it 'em hot.  Don't spare them.  Put plenty of brimstone into it."

But, to Harry's intense disgust, his father put no brimstone into it at
all.  On the contrary, without availing himself of heads or
subdivisions, he pointed out in a few plain words the evil of their
course, and the only method of escaping from that evil.  Then he told
them that penal servitude for many years was their due according to the
law of the land.

"Now," said he, in conclusion, "you are both of you young and strong men
who may yet do good service and honest work in the land.  I have no
desire to ruin your lives.  Penal servitude might do so.  Forgiveness
may save you--therefore I forgive you!  There is the open window.  You
are at liberty to go."

The burglars had been gazing at their reprover with wide-open eyes.
They now turned and gazed at each other with half-open mouths; then they
again turned to the clergyman as if in doubt, but with a benignant smile
he again pointed to the open window.

They rose like men in a dream, went softly across the room, stepped
humbly out, and melted into darkness.

The parson's conduct may not have been in accordance with law, but it
was eminently successful, for it is recorded that those burglars laid
that sermon seriously to heart--at all events, they never again broke
into that parsonage, and never again was there occasion for Harry to
call in the services of the ancient knight or the Crusader.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

JIM GREELY, THE NORTH SEA SKIPPER.

When Nellie Sumner married James Greely--the strapping skipper of a
Yarmouth fishing-smack--there was not a prettier girl in all the town,
at least so said, or thought, most of the men and many of the women who
dwelt near her.  Of course there were differences of opinion on the
point, but there was no doubt whatever about it in the mind of James
Greely, who was overwhelmed with astonishment, as well as joy, at what
he styled his "luck in catching such a splendid wife."

And there was good ground for his strong feeling, for Nellie was neat,
tidy, and good-humoured, as well as good-looking, and she made Jim's
home as neat and tidy as herself.

"There's always sunshine inside o' my house," said Greely to his mates
once, "no matter what sort o' weather there may be outside."

Ere long a squall struck that house--a squall that moved the feelings of
our fisherman more deeply than the fiercest gale he had ever faced on
the wild North Sea, for it was the squall of a juvenile Jim!  From that
date the fisherman was wont to remark, with a quiet smile of
satisfaction, that he had got moonlight now, as well as sunshine, in the
Yarmouth home.

The only matter that distressed the family at first was that the father
saw so little of his lightsome home; for, his calling being that of a
deep-sea smacksman, or trawler, by far the greater part of our
fisherman's rugged life was spent on the restless ocean.  Two months at
sea and eight days ashore was the unvarying routine of Jim's life,
summer and winter, all the year round.  That is to say, about fifty days
on shore out of the year, and three hundred and fifteen days on what the
cockney greengrocer living next door to Jim styled the "'owlin' deep."

And, truly, the greengrocer was not far wrong, for the wild North Sea
does a good deal of howling, off and on, during the year, to say nothing
of whistling and shrieking and other boisterous practices when the
winter gales are high.

But a cloud began to descend, very gradually at first, on James Greely's
dwelling, for a demon--a very familiar one on the North Sea--had been
twining his arms for a considerable time round the stalwart fisherman.

At the time of Jim's marriage those mission-ships of the Dutch--and, we
may add, of the devil--named _copers_, or floating grog-shops, were
plying their deadly traffic in strong drink full swing among the
trawlers of the North Sea.  Through God's blessing the mission-ships of
the Cross have now nearly driven the _copers_ off the sea, but at the
time we write of the Dutchmen had it all their own way, and many a
splendid man, whom toil, cold, hardship, and fierce conflict with the
elements could not subdue, was laid low by the poisonous spirits of the
_coper_.  Greely went to the _copers_ at first to buy tobacco, but,
being a hearty, sociable fellow, he had no objection to take an
occasional friendly dram.  Gradually, imperceptibly, he became enslaved.
He did not give way at once.  He was too much of a man for that.  Many
a deadly battle had he with the demon--known only to himself and God--
but as he fought in his own strength, of course he failed; failed again
and again, until he finally gave way to despair.

Poor Nellie was quick to note the change, and tried, with a brave heart
at first but a sinking heart at last, to save him, but without success.
The eight days which used to be spent in the sunny home came at last to
be spent in the Green Dragon public-house; and in course of time Nellie
was taught by bitter experience that if her husband, on his periodical
return from the sea, went straight from the smack to the public-house,
it was little that she would see of him during his spell on shore.  Even
curly-headed juvenile Jimmie--his father's pride--ceased to overcome the
counter-attraction of strong drink.

Is it to be wondered at that Nellie lost some of her old
characteristics--that, the wages being spent on drink, she found it hard
to provide the mere necessaries of life for herself and her boy, and
that she finally gave up the struggle to keep either person or house as
neat and orderly as of yore, while a haggard look and lines of care
began to spoil the beauty of her countenance?  Or is it a matter for
surprise that her temper began to give way under the strain?

"You are ruining yourself and killing me," said the sorely-tried wife
one evening--the last evening of a spell on shore--as Jim staggered into
the once sunny home to bid his wife good-bye.

It was the first time that Nellie had spoken roughly to him.  He made no
answer at first.  He was angry.  The Green Dragon had begun to
demoralise him, and the reproof which ought to have melted only hardened
him.

"The last of the coals are gone," continued the wife with bitterness in
her tone, "and there's scarcely enough of bread in the house for a good
supper to Jimmie.  You should be ashamed of yourself, Jim."

A glare of drunken anger shot fiercely from the fisherman's eyes.  No
word did he utter.  Turning on his heel, he strode out of the house and
shut the door after him with cannon-shot violence.

"O Jim--stop Jim!" burst from timid Nellie.  "I'll never--"

She ceased abruptly, for the terrified Jimmie was clinging to her
skirts, and her husband was beyond the reach of her voice.  Falling on
her knees, she prayed to God passionately for pardon.  It was their
first quarrel.  She ended by throwing herself on her bed and bursting
into a fit of sobbing that not only horrified but astounded little Jim.
To see his mother sobbing wildly while he was quiet and grave was a
complete inversion of all his former experiences.  As if to carry out
the spirit of the situation, he proceeded to act the part of comforter
by stroking his mother's brown hair with his fat little hand until the
burst of grief subsided.

"Dare, you's dood now, muzzer.  Tiss me!" he said.

Nellie flung her arms round the child and kissed him fervently.

Meanwhile James Greely's smack, the _Dolphin_, was running down the Yare
before a stiff breeze, and Jim himself had commenced the most momentous,
and, in one sense, disastrous voyage of his life.  As he stood at the
tiller, guiding his vessel with consummate skill out into the darkening
waters, his heart felt like lead.  He would have given all he possessed
to recall the past hour, to have once again the opportunity of bidding
Nellie good-bye as he had been wont to do in the days that were gone.
But it was too late.  Wishes and repentance, he knew, avail nothing to
undo a deed that is done.

Jim toiled with that branch of the North Sea fleets which is named the
"Short Blue."  It was trawling at a part of the North Sea called "Botney
Gut" at that time, but our fisherman had been told that it was fishing
at another part named the "Silverpits."  It blew hard from the nor'west,
with much snow, so that Jim took a long time to reach his destination.
But no "Short Blue" fleet was to be seen at the Silverpits.

To the eyes of ordinary men the North Sea is a uniform expanse of water,
calm or raging as the case may be.  Not so to the deep-sea trawler.
Jim's intimate knowledge of localities, his sounding-lead and the nature
of the bottom, etcetera, enabled him at any time to make for, and surely
find, any of the submarine banks.  But fleets, though distinguished by a
name, have no "local habitation."  They may be on the "Dogger Bank"
to-day, on the "Swarte Bank" or the "Great Silverpits" to-morrow.  With
hundreds of miles of open sea around, and neither milestone nor
finger-post to direct, a lost fleet is not unlike a lost needle in a
haystack.  Fortunately Jim discovered a brother smacksman looking, like
himself, for his own fleet.  Being to windward the brother ran down to
him.

"What cheer O!  Have 'ee seen anything o' the Red Cross Fleet?" roared
the skipper, with the power of a brazen trumpet.

"No," shouted Jim, in similar tones.  "I'm lookin' for the Short Blue."

"I passed it yesterday, bearin' away for Botney Gut."

"'Bout ship" went Jim, and away with a stiff breeze on his quarter.  He
soon found the fleet--a crowd of smacks, all heading in the same
direction, with their huge trawling nets down and bending over before
what was styled a good "fishing-breeze."  It requires a stiff breeze to
haul a heavy net, with its forty or fifty feet beam and other gear, over
the rough bottom of the North Sea.  With a slight breeze and the net
down a smack would be simply anchored by the stern to her own gear.

Down went Jim's net, and, like a well-drilled fisherman, he fell into
line.  It was a rough grey day with a little snow falling, which
whitened all the ropes and covered the decks with slush.

Greely's crew had become demoralised, like their skipper.  There were
five men and a fair-haired boy.  All could drink and swear except the
boy.  Charlie was the only son of his mother, and she was a good woman,
besides being a widow.  Charlie was the smack's cook.

"Grub's ready," cried the boy, putting his head up the hatchway after
the gear was down.

He did not name the meal.  Smacksmen have a way of taking food
irregularly at all or any hours, when circumstances permit, and are easy
about the name so long as they get it, and plenty of it.  A breakfast at
mid-day after a night of hardest toil might be regarded indifferently as
a luncheon or an early dinner.

Black Whistler, the mate, who stood at the helm, pronounced a curse upon
the weather by way of reply to Charlie's summons.

"You should rather bless the ladies on shore that sent you them wursted
mittens an' 'elmet, you ungrateful dog," returned the boy with a broad
grin, for he and Whistler were on familiar terms.

The man growled something inaudible, while his mates went below to feed.

Each North Sea trawling fleet acts unitedly under an "admiral."  It was
early morning when the signal was given by rocket to haul up the nets.
Between two and three hours at the capstan--slow, heavy toil, with every
muscle strained to the utmost--was the result of the admiral's order.
Bitter cold; driving snow; cutting flashes of salt spray, and dark as
Erebus save for the light of a lantern lashed to the mast.  Tramp,
tramp, tramp, the seemingly everlasting round went on, with the clank of
heavy sea-boots and the rustle of hard oil-skins, and the sound of
labouring breath as accompaniment; while the endless cable came slowly
up from the "vasty deep."

But everything comes to an end, even on the North Sea!  At last the
great beam appears and is secured.  With a sigh of relief the capstan
bars are thrown down, and the men vary their toil by clawing up the net
with scarred and benumbed fingers.  It is heavy work, causes much
heaving and gasping, and at times seems almost too much for all hands to
manage.

Again Black Whistler pronounces a malediction on things in general, and
is mockingly reminded by the boy-cook that he ought to bless the people
as sends him wursted cuffs to save his wrists from sea-blisters.

"Seems to me we've got a hold of a bit o' Noah's ark," growled one of
the hands, as something black and big begins to appear.

He is partially right, for a bit of an old wreck is found to have been
captured with a ton or so of fish.  When this is disengaged the net
comes in more easily, and the fish are dropped like a silver cataract on
the wet deck.

One might imagine that there was rest for the fishermen now.  Far from
it.  The fish had to be "cleaned"--i.e. gutted and the superfluous
portions cut off and packed in boxes for the London market.  The grey
light of a bleak winter morning dawned before the work was finished.
During the operation the third hand, Lively Dick, ran a fish-bone deeply
into his hand, and laid a foundation for future trouble.

It was noon before the trunks, or fish-boxes, were packed.  Then the
little boat had to be launched over the side, loaded with fish, and
ferried to one of the steamers which ply daily and regularly between
Billingsgate and the fleets.  Three men jumped into it and pushed off--a
mere cockle-shell on a heaving flood, now dancing on a wave-crest, now
lost to view in a water-valley.

"What's that?" said Whistler, as they pulled towards the steamer.
"Looks bigger than the or'nary mission-ships."

"Why, that must be the noo hospital-ship, the _Queen Victoria_,"
answered Lively Dick, glancing over his shoulder at a large vessel,
smack-rigged, which loomed up through the haze to leeward.

They had no time for further remark, for the great side of the steamer
was by that time frowning over them.  It was dangerous work they had to
do.  The steamer rolled heavily in the rough sea.  The boat, among a
dozen other boats, was soon attached to her by a strong rope.  Men had
to be athletes and acrobats in order to pass their fish-boxes from the
leaping and plunging boats to the deck of the rolling steamer.  The
shouting and noise and bumping were tremendous.  An awkward heave
occasionally sent a box into the sea amid oaths and laughter.  Jim's
cargo was put safely on board, and the boat was about to cast off when a
heavier lurch than usual caused Black Whistler to stagger.  To save
himself from plunging overboard he laid both hands on the gunwale of the
boat--a dangerous thing to do at any time when alongside of a vessel.
Before he could recover himself the boat went crashing against the
steamer's iron side and the fisherman's hands were crushed.  He fell
back into the boat almost fainting with agony.  No cry escaped him,
however.  Lively Dick saw the blood streaming, and while his mate shoved
off the boat he wrapped a piece of canvas in a rough-and-ready fashion
round the quivering hands.

"I'm done for this trip," groaned Whistler, "for this means go ashore--
weeks in hospital--wages stopped, and wife and chicks starving."

"Never a bit, mate," said Dick; "didn't you know that the noo
mission-ship does hospital work afloat and that they'll keep you aboard
of her, and lend us one o' their hands till you're fit for work again?"

Whether poor Whistler believed, or understood, or was comforted by this
we cannot say, for he made no reply and appeared to be almost overcome
with pain.  On reaching the _Dolphin_ a signal of distress was made to
the floating hospital, which at once bore down to them.  The injured man
was transferred to it, and there, in the pleasant airy cabin, Black
Whistler made acquaintance with men who were anxious to cure his soul as
well as his body.  Up to this time he had resolutely declined to visit
the mission-ships, but now, when a skilled medical man tenderly dressed
his terrible wounds and a sympathetic skipper led him to a berth and
supplied him with some warm coffee, telling him that he would be free to
remain there without charge as long as was needed, and that meanwhile
one of the mission hands would take his place in the _Dolphin_ till he
was able to resume work, his opinion of mission-ships and work underwent
modification, and he began to think that mission crews were not such a
bad lot after all.

Meanwhile Skipper Greely, leaving his man in the _Queen Victoria_,
returned to his smack accompanied by George King, the new hand.

King's position was by no means an enviable one, for he found himself
thus suddenly in the midst of a set of men who had no sympathy with him
in religious matters, and whose ordinary habits and conversation
rendered remonstrance almost unavoidable.  Unwilling to render himself
obnoxious at first, the man resolved to try the effect of music on his
new shipmates.  He happened to possess a beautiful tenor voice, and the
first night--a calm bright one--while taking his turn at the helm, he
sang in a soft sweet voice one after another of those hymns which Mr
Sankey has rendered so popular.  He began with "Come to the Saviour,
make no delay," and the first effect on his mates, most of whom were
below, was to arouse a feeling of contempt.  But they could not resist
the sweetness of the voice.  In a few minutes they were perfectly
silent, and listening with a species of fascination--each being wafted,
both by words and music, to scenes on shore and to times when his spirit
had not been so demoralised by sin.

Greely, in particular, was transported back to the sunny home in
Yarmouth, and to the days of first-love, before the _demon_ had gained
the mastery and clouded the sunshine.

As the night wore on, a fog settled down over the North Sea, and the
smacks of the Short Blue fleet began to blow their fog-horns, while the
crews became more on the alert and kept a bright look-out.

Suddenly, and without warning, a dull beating sound was heard by the
look-out on the _Dolphin_.  Next moment a dark object like a phantom
ship loomed out of the fog, and a wild cry arose as the men saw the bows
of a huge ocean steamer coming apparently straight at them.  The smack
was absolutely helpless, without steering way.  For an instant there was
shouting on board the steamer, and she fell off slightly as she rushed
into the small circle of the _Dolphin's_ light.  A tremendous crash
followed, but the change of direction had been sufficient to prevent a
fatal collision.  Another moment and the great steamer was gone, while
the little smack rocked violently from the blow as well as from the
swell left in the steamer's wake.

This was but the beginning of a night of disaster.  Skipper Greely and
his men had scarcely recovered from the surprise of this incident when
the fog lifted and quickly cleared away, revealing the Short Blue fleet
floating all round with flapping sails, but it was observed also that a
very dark cloud rested on the north-western horizon.  Soon a stiffish
breeze sprang up, and the scattered fleet drew together, lay on the same
tack, and followed the lead of their admiral, to whom they looked for
the signal to shoot the trawls.  But instead of giving this order the
admiral signalled to "lay-to."

Being disgusted as well as surprised that their leader was not going to
fish, Jim Greely, being also exhausted by long watching, went below and
turned in to have a sleep.  He had not been long asleep when fair-haired
Charlie came to tell him that Lively Dick, who acted as mate in
Whistler's absence, wanted him on deck.  He ran up at once.

"Looks like dirty weather, skipper," said Dick, pointing to windward.

"Right you are, lad," said Jim, and called all hands to close-reef.

This being done and everything made snug, the skipper again turned in,
with orders to call him if things should get worse.

Soon after, Dick, who was at the helm, saw a squall bearing down on
them, but did not think it worth while to call the skipper.  It broke on
them with a clap like thunder, but the good _Dolphin_ stood the shock
well, and Dick was congratulating himself when he saw a sea coming
towards them, but sufficiently astern, he thought, to clear them.  He
was wrong.  It broke aboard, right into the mainsail, cleared the deck,
and hove the smack on her beam-ends.

This effectually aroused the skipper, who made desperate but at first
ineffectual efforts to get out of his berth, for the water, which poured
down the hatchway, washed gear, tackles, turpentine-tins, paint-pots,
and nearly everything moveable from the iron locker on the weather-side
down to leeward, and blocked up the openings.  Making another effort he
cleared all this away, and sprang out of the berth, which was half full
of water.  Pitchy darkness enshrouded him, for the water had put out the
lights as well as the fire.  Just then the vessel righted a little.

"Are you all right on deck?" shouted Jim, as he scrambled up the
hatchway.

"All right, as far as I can see," answered Dick.

"Hold on, I've a bottle o' matches in my bunk," cried the skipper,
returning to the flooded cabin.  Fortunately the matches were dry; a
light was struck, and a candle and lamp lighted.  The scene revealed was
not re-assuring.  The water in the cabin was knee-deep.  A flare, made
of a woollen scarf soaked in paraffin, was lighted on deck, and showed
that the mainsail had been split, the boat hopelessly damaged, and part
of the lee bulwarks broken.  The mast also was leaning aft, the forestay
having been carried away.  A few minutes later Lively Dick went tumbling
down into the cabin all of a heap, to avoid the mast as it went crashing
over the side in such a way as to prevent the use of the pumps, and
carrying the mizzenmast along with it.

"Go to work with buckets, boys, or she'll sink," shouted the skipper,
himself setting the example, for the ballast had shifted and the danger
was great.  Meanwhile George King seized an axe and cut away the rigging
that held on to the wrecked masts, and fair-haired Charlie laboured like
a hero to clear the pumps.  The rays of the cabin lights did not reach
the deck, so that much of the work had to be done in what may be styled
darkness visible, while the little vessel kicked about like a wild thing
in the raging sea, and the torn canvas flapped with a horrible noise.
Pitiless wind, laden with sleet, howled over them as if thirsting
impatiently for the fishermen's lives.  At last they succeeded in
clearing the pumps, and worked them with untiring energy for hours, but
could not tell how many, for the thick end of a marline-spike had been
driven through the clock-face and stopped it.

It was still dark when they managed to rig up a jury-mast on the stump
of the old one and hoist a shred of sail.  George King was ordered to
the tiller.  As he passed Greely he said in a cheerful voice, "Trust in
the Lord, skipper, He can bring us out o' worse than this."

It might have been half an hour later when another sea swept the deck.
Jim took shelter under the stump of the mast and held on for dear life.
Charlie got inside the coil of the derrick-fall and so was saved, while
the others dived into the cabin.  When that sea had passed they found no
one at the tiller.  Poor King had been washed overboard.  Nothing
whatever could be done for him, even if he had been seen, but the greedy
sea had swallowed him, and he was taken to swell with his tuneful voice
the company of those who sing on high the praises of redeeming love.

The sea which swept him into eternity also carried away the jury-mast,
and as the smack was now a mere wreck, liable to drift on shore if the
gale should continue long, Jim let down an anchor, after removing its
stock so that it might drag on the bottom and retard the drifting while
it kept the vessel's head to the sea.

A watch was then set, and the rest of the crew went below to wait and
wish for daybreak!  It was a dreary vigil under appalling circumstances,
for although the smack had not actually sprung a leak there was always
the danger of another sea overwhelming and altogether sinking her.  Her
crew sat there for hours utterly helpless and literally facing death.
Fortunately their matches had escaped the water, so that they were able
to kindle a fire in the stove and obtain a little warmth as well as make
a pot of tea and eat some of their sea-soaked biscuit.

It is wonderful how man can accommodate himself to circumstances.  No
sooner had the crew in this wreck felt the stimulating warmth of the hot
tea than they began to spin yarns! not indeed of a fanciful kind--they
were too much solemnised for that--but yarns of their experience of
gales in former times.

"It minds me o' this wery night last year," said Lively Dick,
endeavouring to light his damp pipe.  "I was mate o' the _Beauty_ at the
time.  We was workin' wi' the Short Blues on the Dogger, when a
tremendous squall struck us, an' it began to snow that thick we could
scarce see the end o' the jib-boom.  Well, the gale came on in real
arnest before long, so we had to lay-to all that night.  When it came
day we got some sail set and I went below to have a hot pot o' tea when
the skipper suddenly sang out `Jump up here, Dick!' an' I did jump up,
double quick, to find that we was a'most runnin' slap into a dismasted
craft.  We shoved the tiller hard a-starboard and swung round as if we
was on a swivel, goin' crash through the rackage alongside an' shavin'
her by a hair.  We could just see through the snow one of her hands
choppin' away at the riggin', and made out that her name was the _Henry
and Thomas_."

"An' did ye see nothin' more of 'er arter that?" asked the boy Charlie
with an eager look.

"Nothin' more.  She was never heard of arter that mornin'."

While the men were thus talking, the watch on deck shouted that one of
the mission-ships was close alongside.  Every one ran on deck to hail
her, for they stood much in need of assistance, two of their water-casks
having been stove in and everything in the hold turned topsy-turvy--
beef, potatoes, flour, all mixed up in horrible confusion.  Just then
another sea came on board, and the crew had to dive again to the cabin
for safety.  That sea carried away the boat and the rest of the
starboard bulwarks, besides starting a plank, and letting the water in
at a rate which the pumps could not keep down.

Quickly the mission-ship loomed up out of the grey snow-cloud and ran
past.

"You'll want help!" shouted the mission skipper.

"Ay, we do," shouted Jim Greely in reply.  "We're sinkin', and our
boat's gone."

An arm thrown up indicated that the words were understood.  A few
minutes later and the crew of the _Dolphin_ saw the mission crew
launching their little boat.  With, such a sea running the venture was
perilous in the extreme, but when the mission skipper said "Who'll go?"
he had no lack of volunteers.  The boat was manned at once, and the crew
of the _Dolphin_ were rescued a few minutes before the _Dolphin_ herself
went head-foremost to the bottom.  Just as they got safely on deck the
mission-ship herself shipped a heavy sea, which washed several of the
men into the lee scuppers.  They jumped up immediately--some with "Thank
God" on their lips, others with a laugh--but James Greely did not rise.
He lay stunned and rolling about in the water.  It was found on raising
him that his right leg was broken at the thigh.

When Jim recovered consciousness he did not complain.  He was a man of
stern mould, and neither groaned nor spoke; but he was not the less
impressed with the kindness and apparent skill with which the mission
skipper treated him.

Having received a certain amount of surgical training, the skipper--
although unlearned and a fisherman--knew well how to put the leg in
splints and otherwise to treat the patient.

"It's pretty bad, I fear," he said soothingly, observing that Jim's lips
were compressed, and that beads of perspiration were standing on his
brow.

Jim did not reply, but smiled grimly and nodded, for the rolling of the
ship caused him increasing agony as the injured parts began to inflame.

"I'm not very good at this sort o' work," said the mission skipper
modestly, "but thank God the new hospital-ship is cruisin' wi' the Short
Blue just now.  I saw her only yesterday, so we'll put you aboard of her
and there you'll find a reg'lar shore-goin' surgeon, up to everything,
and with all the gimcracks and arrangements of a reg'lar shore-goin'
hospital.  They've got a new contrivance too--a sort o' patent
stretcher, invented by a Mr Dark o' the head office in London--which'll
take you out o' the boat into the ship without movin' a bone or muscle,
so keep your mind easy, skipper, for you'll be aboard the _Queen
Victoria_ before many hours go by."

Poor Greely appreciated the statement about the stretcher more than all
the rest that was said, for he was keenly alive to the difficulty of
passing a broken-boned man out of a little boat into a smack or steamer
in a heavy sea, having often had to do it.

The mission skipper was right, for early the next day Jim was strapped
to a wonderful frame and passed into the hospital-ship without shake or
shock, and his comrades were retained in the mission smack until they
could be sent on shore.  Greely and his men learned many lessons which
they never afterwards forgot on board of the _Queen Victoria_--the
foundation lesson being that they were lost sinners and that Jesus
Christ came "to seek and to save the lost."

Slowly, and at first unwillingly, Skipper Greely took the great truths
in.  Several weeks passed, and he began to move about with some of his
wonted energy.  Much to his surprise he found himself one morning
signing the temperance pledge-books, persuaded thereto by the skipper of
the _Queen Victoria_.  Still more to his surprise he found himself one
Sunday afternoon listening, with unwonted tears in his eyes, to some of
his mates as they told their spiritual experiences to an assembly of
some hundred or so of weather-beaten fishermen.  Before quitting that
vessel he discovered that he possessed a powerful and tuneful voice,
admirably adapted for singing hymns, and that he was capable of publicly
stating the fact that he was an unworthy sinner saved by grace.

When at last he returned ashore and unexpectedly entered the Yarmouth
home, Nellie could scarcely believe her senses, so great was the change.

"Jim!" she cried, with opening eyes and beating heart, "you're like your
old self again."

"Thank God," said Jim, clasping her in his strong arms.  But he could
say no more for some time.  Then he turned suddenly on curly-headed
Jimmie, who had been fiercely embracing one of his enormous sea-boots,
and began an incoherent conversation and a riotous romp with that
juvenile fisherman.

A brighter sunshine than had ever been there before enlightened that
Yarmouth home, for God had entered it and the hearts of its occupants.

Example is well-known to be infectious.  In course of time a number of
brother fishermen began to think as Jim Greely thought and feel as he
felt.  His house also became the centre, or headquarters, of an informal
association got up for the purpose of introducing warmth and sunshine
into poor homes in all weathers, and there were frequently such large
meetings of the members of that association that it taxed Nellie's
ingenuity to supply seats and stow them all away.  She managed it,
however; for, as Jim was wont to remark, "Nellie had a powerful
intellec' for her size."

Among the frequenters of this Yarmouth home were several of the men who
had once been staunch supporters of the Green Dragon, and of these the
most enthusiastic, perhaps, if not the most noisy, were Black Whistler,
Lively Dick, and fair-haired Charlie.



CHAPTER NINE.

A NORTHERN WAIF.

If a waif is a lost wanderer, then little Poosk was a decided waif for
he had gone very much astray indeed in the North American backwoods.  It
was a serious matter for an Indian child of six years of age to become a
waif in the dead of winter, with four feet of snow covering the entire
wilderness, and the thermometer far below zero.

Yes, little Poosk was lost.  His Indian mother, when she tied up his
little head in a fur cap with ear-pieces, had said to him that morning--
and it was a New Year's Day morning--"Poosk, you go straight to the
mission-house.  The feast will be a very grand one--oh! _such_ a good
one!  Better than the feast we have when the geese and ducks come back
in spring.  Go straight; don't wander; follow in your father's tracks,
and you can't go wrong."

Ah! what a compliment to father would have been implied in these words
had the mother meant his moral tracks.  But she did not: she referred to
his snow-shoe tracks, which would serve as a sure guide to the
mission-house, if closely followed.  Poosk had promised to obey orders,
of course, as readily as if he had been a civilised white boy, and with
equal readiness had forgotten his promise when the first temptation
came.  That temptation had come in the form of a wood-partridge, in
chase of which, with the spirit of a true son of the forest, Poosk had
bolted, and soon left his father's tracks far behind him.  Thus it came
to pass that in the pursuit of game, our little savage became a "waif
and stray."  Had he been older, he would doubtless have returned on his
own little track to the spot where he had left that of his father; but,
being so young, he fancied that he could reach it by bending round
towards it as he advanced.

Poosk was uncommonly small for his age--hence his name, which, in the
Cree language, means _half_.  He came at the tail-end of a very large
family.  Being remarkably small from the first, he was regarded as the
extreme tip of that tail.  His father styled him _half_ a child--Poosk.
But his lack of size was counterbalanced by great physical activity and
sharp intelligence.  Wrapped in his warm deerskin coat, which was lined
with flannel, and edged with fur, and secured with a scarlet belt, with
his little legs in ornamented leggings, his little feet in new
moccasins, and shod with little snowshoes not more than twenty-four
inches long by eight broad--his father's being five-feet by fifteen
inches,--and his little hands in leather mittens of the bag-and-thumb
order, Poosk went over the snow at an amazing rate for his size, but
failed to rejoin his father's track.  Suddenly he stopped, and a pucker
on his brow betrayed anxiety.  Compressing his little lips, he looked
round him with an expression of serious determination in his large brown
eyes.  Was he not in his native wilds?  Was he not the son of a noted
brave?  Was _he_ going to submit to the disgrace of losing his way; and,
what was much worse, losing his feast?  Certainly not!  With stern
resolve on every lineament of his infantile visage he changed his
direction, and pushed on.  We need scarcely add that he soon stopped
again; resolved and re-resolved to succeed, and changed his direction
again and again till he became utterly bewildered, and, finally, sitting
down on the trunk of a fallen tree, shut his eyes, opened his little
mouth, and howled.  It was sad, but it was natural that at so early a
period of life the stoicism of the savage should be overcome by the
weakness of the child.  Finding after a while that howling resulted in
nothing but noise, Poosk suddenly shut his mouth, and opened his eyes.
There seemed to be some intimate connection between the two operations.
Perhaps there was.  The opening of the eyes went on to the uttermost,
and then became a fixed glare, for, right in front of him sat a white
rabbit on its hind legs, and, from its expression, evidently filled with
astonishment equal to his own.

The spirit of the hunter arose, and that of the child vanished, as
little Poosk sprang up and gave chase.  Of course the rabbit "sloped,"
and in a few minutes both pursued and pursuer were lost in the depths of
the snow-encumbered forest.

On a point of rocks which jutted out into a frozen lake, stood a small
church with a small spire, small porch, and diminutive windows.  The
pastor of that church dwelt close to it in a wooden house or log cabin,
which possessed only one window and a door.  A much larger hut alongside
of it served as a school-house and meeting-hall.  In this little
building the man of God, assisted by a Red Indian convert, taught the
Red Men of the wilderness the way of life through Jesus Christ, besides
giving them a little elementary and industrial education suited to their
peculiar circumstances; and here, on the day of which we write, he had
prepared the sumptuous feast to which reference has just been made.  The
pastor's wife and daughter had prepared it.  There were venison pies and
ptarmigan pasties; there were roasts of fowls, and roasts of rabbits,
and stews of many things which we will not venture to describe, besides
puddings of meat, and puddings of rice, and puddings of plums; also tea
and coffee to wash it all down.  There was no strong drink.  Strong
health and appetite were deemed sufficient to give zest to the
proceedings.  The company was remarkably savage to look at, but
wonderfully civilised in conduct, for the influence of Christian love
was there, and that influence is the same everywhere.  Leathern garments
clothed the men; curtailed petticoats adorned the women; both wore
leggings and moccasins.  The boys and girls were similarly costumed, and
all had brilliant teeth, brown faces, glittering eyes, lank black hair,
and a look of eager expectancy.

The pastor went to the head of the table, and silence ensued while he
briefly asked God's blessing on the feast.  Then, when expectation had
reached its utmost point, there was a murmur.  Where was the smallest
mite of all the guests?  Nobody knew.  Poosk's mother said she had sent
him off hours ago, and had thought that he must be there.  Poosk's
father--a very tall man, with remarkably long legs,--hearing this,
crossed the room in three strides, put on his five-feet by fifteen-inch
snow-shoes and went off into the forest at express speed.

Anxiety is not an easily-roused condition in the North American Indian.
The feast began, despite the absence of our waif; and the waif's mother
set to work with undiminished appetite.  Meanwhile the waif himself went
farther and farther astray--swayed alternately by the spirit of the
stoic and the spirit of the little child.  But little Poosk was made of
sterling stuff, and the two spirits had a hard battle in him for the
mastery that wintry afternoon.  His chase of the rabbit was brought to
an abrupt conclusion by a twig which caught one of his snow-shoes,
tripped him up, and sent him headlong into the snow.  When snow averages
four feet in depth it affords great scope for ineffectual floundering.
The snow-shoes kept his feet near the surface, and the depth prevented
his little arms from reaching solid ground.  When at last he recovered
his perpendicular, his hair, eyes, nose, ears, sleeves, and mittens were
stuffed with snow; and the child-spirit began to whimper, but the stoic
sprang on him and quickly crushed him down.

Drawing his little body up with a look of determination, and wiping away
the tears which had already begun to freeze on his eyelashes, our little
hero stepped out more vigorously than ever, in the full belief that
every yard carried him nearer home, though in reality he was straying
farther and farther from his father's track.  Well was it for little
Poosk that day that his hope of reaching home did not depend on his own
feeble efforts.  Already the father was traversing the wilderness in
search of his lost lamb, though the lamb knew it not.

But Poosk's disasters were not yet over.  Although brave at heart and,
for his years, sturdy of frame, he could not withstand the tremendous
cold peculiar to those regions of ice and snow; and ere long the fatal
lethargy that is often induced by extreme frost began to tell.  The
first symptom was that Poosk ceased to feel the cold as much as he had
felt it some time before.  Then a drowsy sensation crept over him, and
he looked about for a convenient spot on which to sit down and rest.
Alas for the little savage if he had given way at that time!
Fortunately a small precipice was close in front of him, its upper edge
concealed by wreaths of snow.  He fell over it, turning a somersault as
he went down, and alighted safely in a snow-bed at the bottom.  The
shock revived him, but it also quelled the stoic in his breast.  Rising
with difficulty, he wrinkled up his brown visage, and once again took to
howling.  Half an hour later his father, steadily following up the
little track in the snow, reached the spot and heard the howls.  A smile
lit up his swarthy features, and there was a gleam of satisfaction in
his black eyes as he descended to the spot where the child stood.

Sudden calm after a storm followed the shutting of Poosk's mouth and the
opening of his eyes.  Another moment, and his father had him in his
strong arms, turned him upside down, felt him over quietly, shook him a
little, ascertained that no bones were broken, put him on his broad
shoulders, and carried him straight back to the Mission Hall, where the
feasters were in full swing--having apparently quite forgotten the
little "waif and stray."

North American Indians, as is well-known, are not demonstrative.  There
was no shout of joy when the lost one appeared.  Even his mother took no
further notice of him than to make room for him on the form beside her.
She was a practical mother.  Instead of fondling him she proceeded to
stuff him, which she was by that time at leisure to do, having just
finished stuffing herself.  The father, stalking sedately to a seat at
another table, proceeded to make up for lost time.  He was marvellously
successful in his efforts.  He was one of those Indian braves who are
equal to any emergency.

Although near the end of the feast and with only _debris_ left to
manipulate, he managed to refresh himself to his entire satisfaction
before the tables were cleared.

The feast of reason which followed was marked by one outstanding and
important failure.  The pastor had trained the Indian boys and girls of
his school to sing several hymns, and repeat several pieces in prose and
verse.  Our waif, besides being the smallest boy, possessed the sweetest
voice in the school.  He was down on the programme for a hymn--a solo.
Having fallen sound asleep after being stuffed, it was found difficult
to awake him when his turn came.  By dint of shaking, however, his
mother roused him up and set him on his legs on a table, where he was
steadied a little by the pastor's wife, and gently bid to begin, by the
pastor's daughter.

Poosk was very fond of the pastor's daughter.  He would have done
anything for her.  He opened his large eyes, from which a sleepy gleam
of intelligence flashed.  He opened his little mouth, from which rolled
the sweetest of little voices.  The Indians, who had been purposely kept
in ignorance of this musical treat, were ablaze with surprise and
expectation; but the sound died away, the mouth remained open, and the
eyes shut suddenly as Poosk fell over like a ninepin, sound asleep, into
the arms of the pastor's daughter.

Nothing more was to be got out of him that day.  Even the boisterous
laugh which greeted his breakdown failed to rouse him; and finally our
Northern Waif was carried home, and put to bed beside a splendid fire in
a warm robe of rabbit skins.



CHAPTER TEN.

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF LIFE: FROM A YOUNG MAN'S STANDPOINT.

This world is full of niches that have to be filled, of paths that have
to be trod, of work that has to be done.

Pouring continually into it there are millions of human beings who are
capable of being fitted to fill those niches, to traverse those paths,
and to do that work.  I venture a step further and assert that every
human being, without exception, who arrives at the years of maturity
must, in the nature of things, have a particular niche and path and work
appointed for him; and just in proportion as a man finds out his exact
work, and walks in or strays from his peculiar path, will be the success
of his life.  He may miss his aim altogether, and his life turn out a
failure, because of his self-will, or, perhaps, his mistaken notions;
and there are few sights more depressing than that of a round young man
rushing into a square hole, except that of a square young man trying to
wriggle himself into a round hole.  What the world wants is "the right
man in the right place."  What each man wants is to find his right
place.

But the fact that man may, and often does, make a wrong choice, that he
may try to traverse the wrong path, to accomplish the wrong work, and do
many things in the wrong way, is a clear proof that his course in life
is not arbitrarily fixed, that he has been left to the freedom of his
own will, and may therefore fall short of the _best_, though he may be
fortunate enough to attain the good or the better.  Hence devolves upon
every one the responsibility of putting and finding an answer to the
question--How shall I make the best of life?

And let me say here in passing that I venture to address young men on
this subject, not because I conceive myself to be gifted with superior
wisdom, but because, being an old man, I stand on the heights and
vantage ground of Experience, and looking back, can see the rocks and
shoals and quicksands in life's ocean, which have damaged and well-nigh
wrecked myself.  I would not only try my hand as a pilot to guide, but
as, in some sense, a buoy or beacon to warn from dangers that are not
only unseen but unsuspected.

Every young man of ordinary common sense will at least aim at what he
believes to be best in life, and the question will naturally arise--What
_is_ best?

If a youth's chief idea of felicity is to "have a good time;" to enjoy
himself to the utmost; to cram as much of sport, fun, and adventure into
his early manhood as possible, with a happy-go-lucky indifference as to
the future, he is not yet in a frame of mind to consider our question at
all.  I feel disposed to say to him--in paraphrase--"be serious, man,
or, if ye can't be serious, be as serious as ye can," while we consider
a subject that is no trifling matter.

What, then, _is_ best?  I reply--So to live and work that we shall do
the highest good of which we are capable to the world, and, in the doing
thereof, achieve the highest possible happiness to ourselves, and to
those with whom we are connected.  In the end, to leave the world better
than we found it.

Now, there is only one foundation on which such a life can be reared,
and that foundation is God.

To attempt the building on any other, or to neglect a foundation
altogether, is to solicit and ensure disaster.

But supposing, young man, that you agree with me in this; are fully
alive to the importance of the question, and are desirous of obtaining
all the light you can on it, then I would, with all the earnestness of
which I am capable, urge you to begin on this sure foundation by asking
God to guide you and open up your way.  "Ask, and ye shall receive;
seek, and ye shall find."  "Commit thy way unto the Lord, and He will
bring it to pass."  Without this beginning there is, there can be, no
possibility of real success, no hope of reaching the best.  With it
there may still be partial mistake--owing to sin and liability to err--
but there can be no such thing as absolute failure.  Man's first prayer
in all his plans of life should be--"Lord, what wilt Thou have me to
do?"

Many people think that they have put up that petition and got no answer,
when the answer is obviously before their eyes.  It seems to me that
God's answers are always indicative, and not very difficult to
understand.

An anxious father says--if he does not also pray--"What shall I train my
boy to be?"  God, through the medium of common sense, replies, Watch
your son, observe his tastes, and especially his powers, and train him
accordingly.  His capacities, whatever they are, were given to him by
his Maker for the express purpose of being developed.  If you don't
develop them, you neglect a clear indication, unless, indeed, it be held
that men were made in some haphazard way for no definite purpose at all;
but this would be equivalent to making out the Creator to be less
reasonable than most of His own creatures!

If a lad has a strong liking for some particular sort of work or
pursuit, and displays great aptitude for it, there is no need of an
audible voice to tell what should be his path in life.  Contrariwise,
strong dislike, coupled with incapacity, indicates the path to be
avoided with equal precision.

Of course, liking and disliking are not a sufficient indication, for
both may be based upon partial ignorance.  The sea, as a profession, is
a case in point.  How many thousands of lads have an intense liking for
the idea of a sailor's life!  But the liking is not for the sea; it is
for some romantic notion of the sea; and the romancer's aptitude for a
sea life must at first be taken for granted while his experience is
_nil_.  He dreams, probably, of majestic storms, or heavenly calms, of
coral islands, and palm groves, and foreign lands and peoples.  If very
imaginative, he will indulge in Malay pirates and wrecks, and lifeboats,
and desert islands, on which he will always land safely, and commence a
second edition of Robinson Crusoe.  But he will scarcely think, till
bitter experience compels him, of very long watches in dirty unromantic
weather, of holy-stoning the decks, scraping down the masts, and
clearing out the coal-hole.  Happily for our navy and the merchant
service there are plenty of lads who go through all this and stick to
it, their love of the ocean is triumphant--but there are a few
exceptions!

On the other hand, liking and fitness may be discovered by experience.
I know a man who, from childhood, took pleasure in construction and
invention.  At the age of nine he made a real steam engine which "could
go" with steam, and which was small enough to be carried in his pocket.
He was encouraged to follow the providential indication, went through
all the drudgery of workshops, and is now a successful engineer.

Of course, there are thousands of lads whose paths are not so clearly
marked out; but does it not seem reasonable to expect that, with prayer
for guidance, and thoughtful consideration on the part of the boy's
parents, as well as of the boy himself, the best path in life may be
discovered for each?

No doubt there are many difficulties in the way; as when parents are too
ambitious, or when sons are obstinate and self-willed, or when both are
antagonistic to each other.  If, as is not infrequently the case, a
youth has no particular taste for any profession, and shows no very
obvious capacity for anything, is it not a pretty strong indication that
he was meant to tread one of the many subordinate paths of life and be
happy therein?  All men cannot be generals.  Some must be content to rub
shoulders with the rank and file.  If a lad is fit only to dig in a coal
pit or sweep the streets, he is as surely intended to follow these
honourable callings as is the captain who has charge of an ocean steamer
to follow the _sea_.  And even in the selection of these lowly
occupations the path is divinely indicated, while the free-will is left
to the influence of common sense, so that the robust youth with powerful
frame and sinews will probably select the pit, and the comparatively
delicate man will prefer the crossing.

I repeat, to say that any creature was called into being for no purpose
at all, is to question the wisdom of the Almighty.  Even if a babe makes
its appearance on this terrestrial scene, and wails out its brief career
in a single day, it was sent here for a special purpose, else it would
not have been sent, and that purpose must have been fully accomplished,
else it would not have died.

To my mind this is an exceedingly cheering view of things, for it
encourages the belief that however poor or feeble may have been our
efforts to live a good life, these efforts cannot have been made in
vain, even although they may fall very far short of the "best."  And
there is also this very hopeful consideration to comfort us, that the
race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, that
wisdom sometimes proceeds out of the mouths of babes, and that "we
little know what great things from little things may rise."

To be sure, that cuts both ways, for, what sometimes are called "little
sins" may result in tremendous evil, but, equally, efforts that seem
insignificant may be the cause of great and unexpected blessing.

If, then, as I sincerely believe, every living being has a special work
to do--or, rather, has a variety of appropriate paths in any one of
which he may walk with more or less advantage to himself and his
fellow-men--it behoves every young man to find out what path is the best
one for him, and to walk in it vigorously.  Fatalism is folly.  No one
believes in it.  At least no one in this country acts upon it.  When I
say that every being has a special work to do, I don't mean that it has
been decreed _exactly_ what each man has to do.  Were this so, he would
have to do it, _nolens volens_, and there would be no such thing as
responsibility--for it would be gross injustice to hold a man
responsible for that which he could by no means prevent or accomplish.
That which has really been decreed is that man shall have free-will and
be allowed to exercise that free-will in the conduct of his affairs.  It
is a most mysterious gift, but there it is--an unquestionable fact--and
it must be taken into account in all our reasoning.  There is a
confusion here into which men are sometimes liable to fall.  Man's will
is absolutely free, but his action is not so.  He may will just as he
pleases, but all experience tells us that he may not do just as he
pleases.  Whether his intentions be good or bad, they are frequently and
effectively interfered with, but his will--never.

Seeing, then, that there is a best way for every one, and that there are
sundry common sense methods by which the path may be discovered, it may
be well to consider for a moment whether there are not some obstacles
which stand in the way of a young man's success in life, not only
because they are providentially allowed to lie there, but because the
young man himself either carelessly or unwittingly has planted them in
his own path.

Selfishness is one of those obstacles.  And by selfishness I do not mean
that gross form of it which secures for the man who gives way to it a
bad name, but those subtle phases of it which may possibly be allied
with much that is good, amiable, and attractive.  It is not unfrequently
the consequence of that thoughtlessness which results in evil not less
than does want of heart.

Talking too much about oneself and one's own affairs, and being too
little interested in the affairs of others, is one aspect of the
selfishness to which I refer.  Some men, the moment they meet you, begin
to talk energetically about what they have been doing, or thinking, or
about what they are going to do, and if you encourage them they will go
on talking in the same strain, totally forgetting that _you_ may chance
to be interested in other things.  Such men, if they begin young, and
are not checked, soon degenerate into "bores," and no bore, however
well-meaning or even religious, ever succeeded in making the best of
life.  The cure for this is to be found--as usual--in the Scripture:
"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto
according to thy word."  And what says the word?  "Look not (only) on
your own things, but upon the things of others."

I have a friend who was the confidant of a large number of his kindred
and of many other people besides.  It was said of him that everybody
went to him for sympathy and advice.  I can well believe it, for he
never spoke about himself at all that I can remember.  He was not
unusually wise or superlatively clever, but he had "a heart at leisure
from itself to soothe and sympathise."  The consequence was that, in
spite of a good many faults, he was greatly beloved.  And it is certain,
reader, that to gain the affection of your fellow-men is one of the
surest steps in the direction of success in life.  To be too much
concerned in conversation about yourself, your affairs and your opinions
will prove to be a mighty obstruction in your way.  Perhaps one of the
best methods of fighting against this tendency is to resolve, when
meeting with friends, _never_ to begin with self, but _always_ with
them.  But it is hard to crucify self!  This mode of procedure, be it
observed, would not be a hypocritical exhibition of interest where none
was felt, but an honest attempt to snub self by deliberately putting
your friends' interests before your own.

It is probable that we are not sufficiently alive to the influence of
comparatively insignificant matters on success in life.  Illegible
handwriting, for instance, may go far to retard or arrest a youth's
success.  It sometimes interferes with friendly intercourse.  I once had
a friend whose writing was so illegible, and the cause of so much worry
in mere decipherment, that I was constrained to give up epistolary
correspondence with him altogether.  There can be little doubt that many
a would-be author fails of success because of the illegibility of his
penmanship, for it is impossible that an editor or publisher can form a
fair estimate of the character or value of a manuscript which he has
much difficulty in reading.

There is one thing which men are prone to do, and which it would be well
that they should not do, and that is, "nail their colours to the mast"
in early youth.  The world is a school.  We are ever learning--or ought
to be--and, in some cases, "never coming to a knowledge of the truth!"
Is not this partly owing to that fatal habit of nailing the colours?  I
do not for a moment advocate the holding of opinions loosely.  On the
contrary, whether a man be young or old, whenever he gets hold of what
he believes to be true, he ought to grasp it tenaciously and with a firm
grip, but he should never "nail" it.  Being fallible, man is liable to
more or less of error; and, therefore, ought to hold himself open to
correction--ay, even to conversion.  New or stronger light may convince
him that he has been wrong--and if a man will not change when he is
convinced, or "fully persuaded in his own mind," he has no chance of
finding out how to make the best of life, either from a young, or
middle-aged, or old man's standpoint.  Why, new or stronger light--if he
would let it illumine him--might even convince him that his opinion was
not only true, but involved much greater and grander truths than he
supposed.  It is difficult to go more minutely into details, even if it
were advisable to do so.  I may fittingly conclude by saying that the
sum of all that might be written is comprehended in the statement that
obedience to God in all things is the sure and only road to success.

Of all the bright and glorious truths with which our fallen world is
enlightened, there is one--a duplex truth--which lies at the foundation
of everything.  It is unchangeable.  Without it all other facts would be
valueless, and I would recommend every man, woman, and child to nail it
to the mast without hesitation, namely--"God is love," and "Love is the
fulfilling of the law."



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

FORGIVE AND FORGET: A LIFEBOAT STORY.

Old Captain Bolter said he would never forgive Jo Grain--never.  And
what Captain Bolter said he meant: for he was a strong and self-willed
man.

There can be no doubt that the Captain had some ground of complaint
against Grain: for he had been insulted by him grossly--at least so he
thought.  It happened thus:--

Joseph Grain was a young fisherman, and the handsomest, tallest,
strongest, and most active among the youths of the little seaport town
in which he dwelt.  He was also one of the lifeboat's crew, and many a
time had his strong hand been extended in the midst of surging sea and
shrieking tempest to save the perishing.  Moreover, he was of a frank,
generous disposition; was loved by most of his comrades; envied by a
few; hated by none.

But with all his fine qualities young Grain had a great and serious
fault--he was rather fond of strong drink.  It must not, however, be
supposed that he was a drunkard, in the ordinary sense at least of that
term.  No, he was never seen to stagger homeward, or to look idiotic:
but, being gifted with a robust frame and finely-strung nerves, a very
small quantity of alcohol sufficed to rouse within him the spirit of
combativeness, inducing him sometimes to say and do things which
afterwards could not be easily unsaid or undone, however much he might
repent.

One afternoon Grain and some of his mates were sauntering towards the
little lighthouse that stood at the end of their pier.  It was an
old-fashioned stone pier, with a dividing wall or parapet down the
middle of it.  As they walked along, some of the younger men began to
question Jo about a rumour that had recently been spread abroad.

"Come, now, Jo," said one, named Blunt, "don't try to deceive us; you
can't deny that you're after Cappen Bolter's little gal."

"Well, I _won't_ deny it," replied Jo, with sudden energy and somewhat
forced gaiety, while the blood mounted to his bronzed cheeks: "moreover,
I don't care who knows it, for there's not a sweeter lass in all the
town than Mary Bolter, an' the man that would be ashamed to own his
fondness for her don't deserve to have her."

"That's true," said a young fisherman, named Guy, with a nod of
approval--"though there may be two opinions as to which is the sweetest
lass in all the town!"

"I tell 'ee what, Jo," remarked a stern and rather cross-grained
bachelor, named Grime, "you may save yourself the trouble of givin'
chase to that little craft, for although old Bolter ain't much to boast
of--bein' nothin' more than the skipper of a small coastin' craft--he
thinks hisself far too big a man to give his darter to a fisherman."

"Does he?" exclaimed Grain, with vehemence, and then suddenly checked
himself.

"Ay, that does he," returned Grime, with something of a sneer in his
tone.

It chanced that Jo Grain had been to the public-house that day, and the
sneer, which at other times would have been passed over with
indifference, stung him--coupled as it was with a slur on his lowly
position.  He looked fiercely at Grime, and said, in a loud, angry tone:
"It's a matter of moonshine to me what Bolter thinks of himself.  If the
girl's willin' to have me I'll wed her in spite o' the old grampus."

Now, unhappily for Jo Grain, the "old grampus" chanced at that very time
to be sunning himself, and enjoying his pipe on the other side of the
pier-wall, and heard distinctly what Jo said.  Moreover, there was some
truth in what Grime had said about the old skipper looking down on the
young fisherman's position: so that, although he could not deny that Jo
was a first-rate man, and knew that Mary was fond of him, he had
hitherto felt a strong disinclination to allow his darling and only
child to wed, as he considered it beneath her.  When, therefore, the
speech above quoted broke harshly on his ears, the matter became finally
settled in his mind.  He dropped his pipe, set his heel on it, and
ground it to powder.  He also ground his teeth, and, turning round with
a snort, worthy of the creature to which he had been compared, sailed
wildly homewards.

Next day Jo Grain chanced to meet him in the street, and held out his
hand as usual; but the captain, thrusting both hands deep into his
trousers pockets, looked the young man firmly in the face--

"No, Grain," he said sternly.  "I've done with _you_!"

"Why so, Captain Bolter?" asked Jo, in great surprise.

"Because," hissed the Captain, as his wrath rose, "an _old grampus_
don't choose to have anything more to do with a _young puppy_!"

Instantly his reckless speech of the day before flashed into Jo's mind.

"Forgive me, Captain Bolter," he said respectfully: "forgive me, and try
to forget it--I didn't mean it, believe me--I--I wasn't quite myself,
sir, when--"

"No!" interrupted the Captain fiercely; "I'll never forgive you, nor
forget it."

With that he turned away and left Jo Grain to meditate on the folly of
indulging in a stimulant which robbed him of his self-control.  But
youth is very hopeful.  Jo did not quite believe in the Captain's
sincerity.  He comforted himself with the thought that time would soften
the old man's feelings, and meanwhile he would continue to court Mary
when opportunity offered.

The Captain, however, soon proved that he was thoroughly in earnest:
for, instead of leaving his daughter under the care of a maiden aunt, as
had been his custom previously, during his frequent absences from home,
he took her to sea with him, and left Jo with an extra supply of food
for meditation.

Poor Jo struggled hard under this his first severe trial, but struggled
in his own strength and failed.  Instead of casting away the glass which
had already done him so much damage, he madly took to it as a solace to
his secret grief.  Yet Jo took good care that his comrades should see no
outward trace of that grief.

He was not, however, suffered to remain long under the baleful influence
of drink.  Soon after the departure of Captain Bolter, a missionary
visited the little seaport to preach salvation from sin through Jesus
Christ, and, being a man of prayer and faith, his mission was very
successful.  Among the many sins against which he warned the people, he
laid particular stress on that of drunkenness.

This was long before the days of the Blue Ribbon movement: but the
spirit of that movement was there, though the particular title had not
yet arisen.  The missionary preached Christ the Saviour of sinners, and
Temperance as one of the fruits of salvation.  Many of the rough
fishermen were converted--bowed their heads and wills, and ceased to
resist God.  Among them was Joseph Grain.

There was not, indeed, a remarkably great outward change in Jo after
this: for he had always been an amiable, hearty, sweet-tempered fellow:
but there was, nevertheless, a radical change; for whereas in time past
he had acted to please himself, he now acted to please his Lord.  To
natural enthusiasm, which had previously made him the hero of the town,
was now superadded the enthusiasm of a soldier of the Cross: and when
lifeboat duty called him, as in days gone by, to hold out his hand to
the perishing, even while in the act of saving their bodies he prayed
that the result might be salvation to their souls.

You may be sure that Jo did not forget Mary: but his thoughts about her
were wonderfully changed: for in this affair of the heart despair had
given place to trust and submission.

Time passed by, and one night in the dreary month of November the
storm-fiend was let loose on the shores of England.  All round the coast
the crews of our lifeboats assembled at pier-heads and other points of
vantage to watch the enemy and prepare for action.  Among others Jo
Grain and his comrades assembled at their post of duty.

It was an awful night--such as, happily, does not often visit our
shores.  Thick darkness seemed to brood over land and sea.  Only the
robust and hardy dared to show face to the keen, withering blast, which
was laden with sleet.  Sometimes a gleam of lightning would dart through
the raging elements; occasionally the murky clouds rolled off the sky
for a short time, allowing the moon to render darkness hideously
visible.  Tormented foam came in from the sea in riven masses, and the
hoarse roaring of the breakers played a bass accompaniment to the
yelling blast, which dashed gravel and sand, as well as sleet, in the
faces of those who had courage enough to brave it.

"There--wasn't that a light?" cried the coxswain of the lifeboat, as he
cowered under the shelter of the pier-wall and gazed seaward with
difficulty.

"Ay," responded Blunt, who was bowman of the boat; "there it goes
again."

"And a rocket!" shouted Jo Grain, starting up.

"No mistake now," cried the coxswain.  "Look alive, lads!"

He ran as he spoke to the spot where the lifeboat lay ready under the
shelter of the pier, but Jo was on board before him.  Almost
simultaneously did a dozen strong and fearless men leap into the noble
craft and don their cork life-belts.  A few seconds sufficed.  Every man
knew well his place and his duty.  The short, powerful oars were
shipped.

"Give way!" cried the coxswain.

There was no cheer--no onlooker to encourage.  Silently the strong backs
were bent, and the lively boat shot away towards the entrance of the
harbour like a "thing of life."

No description can adequately convey to landsmen the work to be done and
the conditions under which it was performed.  On passing the shelter of
the pier-head the boat and her crew were met not only by the tumultuous
surging of cross seas, but by a blast which caught the somewhat high bow
and almost whirled them into the air; while in its now unbroken force
the cold blast seemed to wither up the powers of the men.  Then, in the
dark distance, an unusually huge billow was seen rushing down on them.
To meet it straight as an arrow and with all possible speed was
essential.  Failure here--and the boat, turning side on, would have been
rolled over and swept back into the harbour, if not wrecked against the
breakwater.

The coxswain strained at the steering oar as a man strains for life.
The billow was fairly met.  The men also strained till the stout oars
were ready to snap; for they knew that the billow must be cut through if
they were to reach the open sea; but it was so high that the bow of the
boat was lifted up, and for one instant it seemed as if she were to be
hurled backward right over the stern.  The impulse given, however, was
sufficient.  The crest of the wave was cut, and next moment the bow fell
forward, plunging deep into the trough of the sea.  At the same time a
cross-wave leaped right over the boat and filled it to the gunwales.

This initial danger past, it was little the men cared for their
drenching.  As little did the boat mind the water, which she instantly
expelled through the discharging tubes in her floor.  But the toil now
began.  In the teeth of tide and tempest they had to pull with might and
main; advancing foot by foot, sometimes only inch by inch.  No rest; no
breathing time; nothing but continuous tearing at the oars, if progress
was to be made, while the spray enveloped them perpetually, and at
frequent intervals the "solid" water, plunging inboard, almost swept the
heroes from their seats.

But if the raging sea through which the lifeboat struggled was dreadful,
much more terrible was the turmoil on the outlying sands where the wreck
was being gradually dashed to pieces.  There the mad billows held high
revelry.  Rushing in from all sides, twisted and turned in their courses
by the battered shoals, they met not far from, the wreck with the shock
of opposing armies, and clouds of foam sprang upward in dire,
indescribable confusion.

The vessel in distress was a small brig.  She had been lifted like a
plaything by the waves, and hurled high on the sand, where, although now
unable to lift her up, they rolled her to and fro with extreme violence.
Rocket after rocket had been sent up, until the drenching seas had
rendered the firing of them impossible.  The foremast had already gone
by the board, carrying most of the crew with it.  On the cross-trees of
the mainmast only two remained--a man and a woman, who could barely
maintain their hold as the battered craft swayed from side to side.

"The end comes at last, darling Mary," said the man, as he grasped the
woman tightly with one arm and the mast with the other.

"No, father--not yet," gasped the woman; "see--the lifeboat!  I felt
sure that God would send it."

On came the gallant little craft.  There was just light enough to enable
those on the wreck to see dimly her white and blue sides as she laboured
through the foam towards them.

"They have missed us, father; they don't see us!" cried the girl.

The blast blew her long hair about, adding wildness to the look of alarm
which she cast on the man while speaking.

"Nay, darling, it's all right.  They've only pulled a bit to wind'ard.
Keep on praying, Mary."

When well to windward of the wreck the anchor of the lifeboat was let
go, and they began to drop down towards the vessel by the cable.  Then,
for the first time, the men could draw a long breath and relax their
efforts at the oars, for wind and waves were now in their favour, though
they still dashed and tossed and buffeted them.

Soon they were nearly alongside, and the man on the cross-trees was
heard to shout, but his words could not be made out.

What could it be that caused Jo Grain's heart to beat against his strong
ribs with the force of a sledge-hammer and his eyes to blaze with
excitement, as he turned on his thwart and crouched like a tiger ready
to spring?

There was tremendous danger in drawing near: for, at one moment, the
boat rushed up on a sea as if about to plunge through the rigging of the
vessel, and the next she was down in a seething caldron, with the black
hull looming over her.  It was observed that the two figures aloft,
which could barely be seen against the dark sky, were struggling with
some difficulty.  They had lashed themselves to the mast, and their
benumbed fingers could not undo the fastenings.

"Haul off!" shouted the coxswain, as the boat was hurled with such force
towards the vessel's hull that destruction seemed imminent.

"No, hold on!" roared Jo Grain.

The men obeyed their coxswain, but as the boat heaved upwards Jo sprang
with all his might, and fell into the rigging of the wreck.  A few
seconds later and he was on the cross-trees, knife in hand, and the
lashings were cut.

At the same moment a rending crash was heard, and again the stentorian
voice of the coxswain was heard shouting to the men.  The lifeboat was
pulled off just in time to escape from the mainmast as it fell, burying
its cross-trees and all its tangled gearing in the sea.

The bowman and young Guy leaned over the side, and at the risk of their
lives grasped at a drowning man.  They caught him, and Captain Bolter
was dragged into the boat insensible.  A moment later and a hand was
seen to rise in the midst of the wreckage.  Guy knew it well.  He
grasped it and held on.  A few seconds more and Jo Grain, with blood
pouring down his face, from a deep cut in his head, was raised to the
gunwale.

"Have a care," he gasped faintly.

His right arm encircled an inanimate form.  Both were dragged on board,
and then it was seen that the form was that of Mary Bolter, uninjured
though insensible.

To haul up to the anchor was a slow process and laborious, but it was
done cheerily, for the hearts of the men were aglow with satisfaction.
Three lives saved!  It was what Blunt styled a grand haul.  Not many,
indeed: but was not one that of a loved comrade, and was not another
that of "the sweetest lass in all the town," in spite of young Guy's
difference of opinion?

It was grey dawn when the lifeboat returned to port under sail, with a
small flag flying in token of success, and it would have done your heart
good, reader, to have seen the faces of the crowds that lined the pier,
and heard the ringing cheers that greeted the gallant rescuers as they
brought the rescued safe to land.

Six hours after that Captain Bolter sat at the bedside of Jo Grain.

"You've been hard hit, Jo, I fear," he said kindly.

"Yes, rather hard, but the doctor says I'll be all right in a week or
two; and it's little I'll care about it, Captain, if you'll only agree
to forgive and forget."

The Captain seized Jo's hand and tried to speak, but could not.  After
an abortive effort he turned away with a grunt and left the room.

Six months after that, Joseph Grain, transformed into a coast-guardsman,
led "the sweetest lass in all the town" to the village church, and young
Guy, still objecting to the title, was groom's-man.

"Jo," said Captain Bolter that day, at parting, "I've forgiven you long
ago, but I _can't_ forget; for you said the truth that time.  I _was_ an
old grampus, or a fool, if you like, and I'm not much better now.
However, good-bye, dear boy, and take care of her, for there's not
another like her in all England."

"Except one," murmured young Guy, as he squeezed his friend's hand and
quietly attached an old slipper to their cab as they drove away.
Thereafter he swaggered off to a certain familiar cottage to talk over
the wedding with one whom _he_ considered the sweetest lass in all the
town.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

"RESCUE THE PERISHING."

Proverbial philosophy asserts that the iron should be struck when it is
hot.  I sympathise with proverbial philosophy in this case, but that
teacher says nothing whatever about striking the iron when it is cold;
and experience--at least that of blacksmiths--goes to prove that cold
iron may be struck till heat is evolved, and, once heated, who knows
what intensity of incandescence may be attained?

I will try it.  My hammer may not be a large one.  A sledge-hammer it
certainly is not.  Such as it is I wield it under the impulse of great
heat within me, and will direct my blows at the presumably cold iron
around.  I say presumably,--because if you, good reader, have not been
subjected to the same influences with myself you cannot reasonably be
expected to be even warm--much less white-hot.

The cause of all this heat was Dr Barnardo's splendid meeting held
recently in the Royal Albert Hall.  I came home from that meeting
incandescent--throwing off sparks of enthusiasm, and eagerly clutching
at every cold or lukewarm creature that came in my way with a view to
expend on it some of my surplus heat!

The great Albert Hall filled is enough of itself to arouse enthusiasm,
whatever the object of the gathering may be.  Ten thousand human beings,
more or less, swarming on the floor, clustering on the walls, rising
tier above tier, until in dim distance the pigmy throng seems soaring up
into the very heavens, is a tremendous, a solemn, a heart-stirring
sight, suggestive--I write with reverence--of the Judgment Day.  And
when such an assembly is convened for the purpose of considering matters
of urgent importance, matters affecting the well-being of multitudes,
matters of life and death which call for instant and vigorous action,
then the enthusiasm is naturally intensified and needs but little
hammering to rouse it to the fiercest glow.

It was no ordinary gathering this--no mere "annual meeting" of a grand
society.  It was indeed that, but a great deal more.  There was a "noble
chairman," of course, and an address, and several speeches by eminent
men; but I should suppose that one-half of the audience could not well
see the features of the speakers or hear their words.  These were
relatively insignificant matters.

The business of the evening was to present to the people a great Object
Lesson, and the only figure on the platform that bulked large--at least
in my esteem--was that of Dr Barnardo himself, and a magical master of
the ceremonies did the doctor prove himself to be.

Being unable to induce the "West End" to visit the "East End," he had
simply cut several enormous slices out of the slums and set them down in
the Royal Albert Hall for inspection.

The display was set forth interestingly and with emphasis, insomuch that
things almost spoke for themselves, and wherein they failed to do so the
Doctor supplemented in a satisfactorily sonorous voice.

One of the slum-slices was a large one.  It consisted of thirteen
hundred children--boys and girls--in bright, light, smart dresses, who
clustered on the orchestra and around the great organ, like flowers in
June.  Looking at their clean, wholesome faces, neat attire, and orderly
demeanour, I thought, "Is it possible that these are the sweepings of
the streets?"  The question was tellingly answered later on; but here it
may be stated that this beautiful band of 1300 was only a slice--a
sample--of the Doctor's large family, which at present numbers nearly
3500.  (It now, in 1893, numbers nearly 5000.)

It was grand to hear them sing!  The great organ itself had to sing
small beside them, for wood and metal can never hope to equal the living
human voice, even though it be but a voice from the slums.  Not only
hymns but humorous songs they sang, and heroic.  A telling effect was
produced while singing one of the latter by the sudden display of 1300
Union Jacks, each the size of a 'kerchief, which the singers waved in
time to the chorus.  It seemed as though a stiff breeze had swept over
the flower-bed and kissed the national flag in passing.

Another surprise of this kind was given during the stirring song of _The
Fire Brigade_, when 1300 bits of gold and silver paper, waved to and
fro, seemed to fill the orchestra with flashing fire.

But much of this was for show, to tickle our eyes and ears and prepare
the way, as it were, for the grave and stern realities yet to come.

There was a mighty platform covered with crimson cloth in the centre of
the hall in front of the orchestra.  On it were several mysterious
objects covered with sheets.  At a signal--a whistle--given by the
Doctor, a band of sturdy boys, clad in their work-a-day uniform,
scampered down the central passage of the hall, jumped on the platform,
flung off the sheets, and discovered carpenters' benches, saws, hammers,
wood--in short, all the appliances with which they carry on the various
trades at their "Home" in the East End.  In a few seconds, as if by
magic, the platform was a workshop in full swing--hammering, sawing,
chiselling, wood-chopping, clattering, and indescribable din, which was
enhanced, but not drowned, by the applause of the astonished audience.
The little fellows worked as though life depended on their activity, for
the space, it seemed to me, of half a minute.  Then the shrill whistle
sounded again, and the work ceased, as if the springs of life had been
suddenly cut off.  Dead silence ensued; each worker remaining in the
attitude in which he had been petrified--a group of artisan statuary in
colour!

The Doctor was thus enabled quietly to explain that the display
represented only a very few of the trades taught and carried on by his
rescued boys at Stepney Causeway.

At another signal the splendidly drilled young fellows scampered off,
carrying not only their tools, but their benches, tables, stools, and
even debris along with them, and, disappearing in less than a couple of
minutes, left not a chip or shaving behind.

It would take a good many pages of close writing to give anything like a
detailed account of all that I saw.  I must pass over much in order to
emphasise one or two very telling incidents.  The Doctor presented a
sample of all his wares.  One of these was a very touching sample--
namely, a band of cripples, who made their way slowly on crutches down
the passage to the platform--for it is one of the noteworthy points in
this Mission that no destitute boy is turned away, whether he be well or
ill, crippled or sound.  So, also, there was a small procession of neat,
pleasant-looking nurses, each leading one or more mites of forsaken
humanity from "Babies' Castle."

But it seemed to me that the kernel of the nut had been reached, and the
foundation of the God-like Mission laid bare for our inspection, when
the raw material was led forth.  We had got accustomed by that time to
turn an expectant gaze at a far distant door when the Doctor's voice
ceased or his whistle sounded.  Presently a solitary nurse with the neat
familiar white cap and apron appeared at the door leading two little
creatures by the hand.  A hush--a distinct though indescribable
sensation--as of profound pity and pathos,--passed over the vast
assembly as a little boy and girl direct from the slums were led
forward.  The nurse had to walk slowly to accommodate her pace to
theirs.  Half naked, ragged, dirty, unkempt, bereft of their natural
guardians, or forsaken by them--helpless, yet left to help themselves
almost before they could walk!  Forward they came to the central
platform, casting timid, wondering glances around at the mighty host of
well-to-do beings, not one of whom, perhaps, ever knew what it is to
hunger for a whole day and lie down at night with a door-step for a
pillow.  Oh, it was pitiful! the Doctor advanced to these forlorn ones
and took them by the hands with inexpressible tenderness, and then,
facing the assembly, broke the silence and presented the human material
which it was, under God, his mission in life to rescue.

Then turning abruptly to the flower-bed in the orchestra, he signalled
with his finger.  A flower that might well have been styled a rosebud--a
neat little girl in pink with a natty straw hat--tripped lightly down
and stood on the platform beside the poor waifs.  Looking up once more
to the entranced audience and pointing to the children, the Doctor
said--

"Such as these are, she was but a few months ago, and such as she is now
they will soon become, with God's blessing."

I may not quote the words correctly, but that is my recollection of the
substance.

The Doctor was not content, however, to show us the foundation and
progress of his work.  He showed us the work, as it were, completed, in
the form of a band of sturdy young men in their working costume, ready
to start as rescued, trained, useful, earnest labourers for the fields
of Manitoba--young men who all had once been lost waifs and strays.

Still further, he, as it were, put the copestone on his glorious work by
presenting a band of men and women--"old boys and girls"--who had been
tested by rough contact with the world and its temptations, and had come
off victorious "by keeping their situations with credit" for periods
varying from one to nine years--kept by the power of Christ!

When I saw the little waifs and looked up at the bands of happy children
before me, and thought of the thousands more in the "Homes," and of the
multitudes which have passed through these Homes in years gone by; the
gladness and the great boon to humanity which must have resulted, and of
the terrible crime and degradation that might have been--my heart
offered the prayer, which at that moment my voice could not have
uttered--"God bless and prosper Dr Barnardo and his work!"

I hear a voice from the "Back of Beyont," or some such far off
locality--a timid voice, perhaps that of a juvenile who knows little,
and can scarce be expected to care much, about London--asking "Who is
Dr Barnardo?"

For the sake of that innocent one I reply that he is a Scavenger--the
chief of London Scavengers!  He and his subordinates sweep up the human
rubbish of the slums and shoot it into a receptacle at 18 Stepney
Causeway, where they manipulate and wash it, and subject it to a variety
of processes which result, with God's blessing, in the recovery of
innumerable jewels of inestimable value.  I say inestimable, because men
have not yet found a method of fixing the exact value of human souls and
rescued lives.  The "rubbish" which is gathered consists of destitute
children.  The Assistant Scavengers are men and women who love and serve
the Lord Jesus Christ.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

A KNOTTY QUESTION.

"Tom Blunt," said Richard Sharp, "I deny your premises, condemn your
reasoning as illogical, and reject your conclusions with scorn!"

The youth who made this remark with very considerable assurance and
emphasis was a student.  His fellow-student received it with an air of
bland good-nature.

"Dick," said he, "your oratory is rotund, and if it were convincing
might be impressive; but it fails to some extent in consequence of a
certain smack of self-assertion which is unphilosophical.  Suppose, now,
that we have this matter out in a calm, dispassionate manner, without
`tooth,' or egotism, or prejudice, which tend so powerfully to mar human
disputation and render it abortive."

"With all my heart, Tom," said the other, drawing close to the fire,
placing one foot against the mantelpiece, as being a comfortable, though
not elegant posture, resting his elbows on the arms of his chair, and
placing his hands in that position--with all the finger tips touching
each other--which seems, from the universal practice of civilised
society, to assist mental elucidation.  "I am quite prepared.  Come on!"

"Stay; while my mind is working I like to have my hands employed.  I
will proceed with my monkey while we talk," said Blunt, taking up a
walking-stick, the head of which he had carved into the semblance of a
monkey.  "Sweet creature!" he added, kissing the object of his
affection, and holding it out at arm's-length.  "Silent companion of my
solitary rambles, and patient auditor of my most secret aspirations, you
are becoming quite a work of art.  A few more touches of the knife, and
something like perfection shall have been attained!  Look here, Dick,
when I turn it towards the light--so--isn't there a beauty about the
contour of that upper lip and nose which--"

"Don't be a fool, Tom," interrupted his friend, somewhat impatiently;
"you seem to me to be growing more and more imbecile every day.  We did
not sit down to discuss fine art--"

"True, Richard, true; but there is a power in the consideration of fine
art, which, when judiciously interpolated in the affairs of life, tends
to soften the asperities, to round away, as it were, the ruggedness of
human intercourse, and produce a tranquillity of mind which is eminently
conducive to--to--don't you see?"

"No, I don't see!"

"Then," continued Blunt, applying his knife to one of the monkey's eyes,
"there arises the question--how far is this intellectual blindness the
result of incapacity of intellectual vision, or of averted gaze, or of
the wilful shutting of the intellectual eyelids?"

"Well, well, Tom, let that question alone for the present.  Let us come
to the point, for I wish to have my mind cleared up on the subject.  You
hold that gambling is wrong--essentially wrong."

"I do; but let us not have a misunderstanding at the very beginning,"
said Blunt.  "By gambling I do not mean the playing of games.  That is
not gambling.  What I understand by gambling is betting on games--or on
anything--and the playing of games for the purpose of winning money, or
anything that possesses value, great or small.  Such gambling I hold to
be wrong--essentially, morally, absolutely wrong, without one particle
of right or good in it whatever."

As he spoke Blunt became slightly more earnest in tone, and less devoted
to the monkey.

"Well, now, Tom, do you know I don't see that."

"If you did see it, my dear fellow," returned Blunt, resuming his airy
tone, "our discussion of the subject would be useless."

"Well, then, I _can't_ see it to be wrong.  Here are you and I.  We want
to have a game of billiards.  It is uninteresting to play even billiards
for nothing; but we each have a little money, and choose to risk a small
sum.  Our object is not gain, therefore we play for merely sixpenny
points.  We both agree to risk that sum.  If I lose, all right.  If you
lose, all right.  That's fair, isn't it?"

"No; it is undoubtedly equal, but not necessarily fair.  Fair means
`free from blemish,' `pure,' in other words, right.  Two thieves may
make a perfectly fair division of spoil; but the fairness of the
division does not make their conduct fair or right.  Neither of them is
entitled to divide their gains at all.  Their agreeing to do so does not
make it fair."

"Agreed, Tom, as regards thieves; but you and I are not thieves.  We
propose to act with that which is our own.  We mutually agree to run the
risk of loss, and to take our chance of gain.  We have a right to do as
we choose with our own.  Is not that fair?"

"You pour out so many fallacies and half truths, Dick, that it is not
easy to answer you right off."

"Morally and politically you are wrong.  Politically a man is not
entitled to do what he chooses with his own.  There are limitations.
For instance, a man owns a house.  Abstractly, he is entitled to burn it
down if he chooses.  But if his house abuts upon mine, he may not set it
on fire if he chooses, because in so doing he would set fire to my house
also, which is very much beyond his right.  Then--"

"Oh, man, I understand all that," said Sharp quickly.  "Of course a man
may put what he likes in his garden, but with such-like limitations as
that he shall not set up a limekiln to choke his neighbours, or a
piggery to breed disease; but gambling does nothing like that."

"Does it not?" exclaimed Blunt.  "Does it not ruin hundreds of men,
turning them into sots and paupers, whereby the ruined gamblers become
unable to pay their fair share of taxation; and, in addition, lay on the
shoulders of respectable people the unfair burden of supporting them,
and perhaps their families?"

"But what if the gambler has no family?"

"There still remains his ruined self to be maintained."

"But suppose he is not ruined--that he manages, by gambling, to support
himself?"

"In that case he still remains guilty of two mean and contemptible acts.
On the one hand he produces nothing whatever to increase the wealth or
happiness of the world, and, on the other hand, whatever he gains is a
matter of direct loss and sorrow to others without any tangible
equivalent.  It is not so with the orator or the musician.  Though their
products are not indeed tangible they are distinctly real and valuable.
During the hour of action the orator charms the ear, eye, and intellect.
So does the musician.  When the hour is past the heart is gladdened by
the memory of what has been, and the hopes are aroused in anticipation
of what may yet be in the future.  As regards the orator, the lessons
inculcated may be a lasting gain and pleasure, and source of widespread
benefit through life.  To a great extent this may also be said of the
musician when words are wedded to music.  Who has not heard of souls
being delivered from spiritual darkness and brought into spiritual light
by means of song?--a benefit which will last through eternity as well as
time.  Even the man of wealth who lives on the interest of his
possessions is not necessarily a drone in the human hive.  He may, by
wise and careful use of his wealth, greatly increase the world's riches.
By the mere management of it he may fill up his days with useful and
happy employment, and by devoting it and himself to God he may so
influence the world for good that men shall bless him while he lives and
mourn him profoundly when he dies.  But what fraction of good is done by
the gambler in all the wide world?"

"Much the same that is accomplished by the others," put in Sharp at this
point.  "The orator gives pleasure to those who are fond of recitation
or declamation; the musician pleases those who are fond of sweet sounds,
and the gambler gives pleasure to men who are fond of the excitement of
play.  Besides, by paying his way he gives benefit to all whom he
employs.  He rents a house, he buys furniture, he eats food, all of
which brings profit to house-owners, cabinet-makers, butchers, bakers,
etcetera, and is good done to the world by the gambler."

"Nay, friend Richard, not by the gambler, but by the money which the
gambler spends."

"Isn't that much the same thing?"

"By no means.  The money--or its equivalent--is created by some one
else.  The gambler merely passes it on.  If he had never been born the
same money would have been there for some one else to spend.  The labour
of the gambler has not added one penny to it.  He brought nothing into
the world, and has added nothing to the world's pile, though he has
managed to consume a good deal of its produce.  Is there not something
very mean and contemptible in this state of being?  On the other hand
the orator has spent laborious days and exerted much brain-power before
he made himself capable of pleasing and benefiting his fellows.  The
musician has gone through exhausting drudgery and practice before being
fit to thrill or instruct by means of his sweet sounds, and the man of
wealth has had to be educated up to the point of using his possessions
to profitable account--so that his fields shall grow heavier crops than
they did when he began his work; his tenants shall be better housed than
they were at first, and shall lead healthier and happier lives to the
great moral and material advantage of the community.  Nearly all the
other members of the hive produce, or help to produce, some sort of
equivalent for the money they obtain.  Even those who produce what is
bad have still _something_ to show for their money, and that something,
bad though it be in one form, may be decidedly good in another form, or
if put to another use.  The gambler alone--except, perhaps, the absolute
idler--enjoys the unenviable position of a thorough, out-and-out,
unmitigated drone.  He does absolutely _nothing_, except produce
unhealthy excitement in himself and his fellows!  He has nothing
whatever to show for the money he has obtained except `risk,' and that
can hardly be styled a commodity."

"I beg pardon," interrupted Sharp, "the gambler produces skill; and
there can be no doubt that hundreds of men derive as much pleasure from
an exhibition of skill with the billiard-cue as others derive from an
exhibition of skill with the flute or violin."

"You forget, Dick, my boy, that skill with the billiard-cue is not
gambling.  What I condemn as being morally and politically wrong is
betting on games and staking anything upon the issue of them.  Gamblers
are, if I may say so, a set of living pockets which circulate money
about amongst themselves, one pocket gaining neither more nor less than
what another pocket loses."

"But you are now talking of professional gamblers, Tom.  Of course I
don't defend these.  What I do defend is my right to play, now and then,
for sixpenny, or say shilling, or even half-crown points, without laying
myself open to the charge of having been guilty of what you term a mean,
dishonourable, unjust, contemptible act."

"In other words, you wish to steal now and then without being called a
thief!  But come, old man, I won't call you bad names.  I know you don't
look at this matter as I do, and therefore I don't think that you are
either mean or contemptible.  Nevertheless, we must bear in mind that
honourable, upright men may sometimes be reasoned into false beliefs, so
that for a time they may fail to see the evil of that which they uphold.
I am not infallible.  If my reasoning is false, I stand open to
correction."

Laying the monkey down on the table at this point and looking earnestly
at his friend, Tom Blunt continued--

"Let me ask a question, Dick.  Is it for the sake of getting money that
you gamble?"

"Certainly not," returned his friend, with a slight touch of
indignation.  "You know that I _never_ play for high stakes, and with
penny or sixpenny points you know it is impossible for me either to win
or lose any sum that would be worth a moment's consideration.  The game
is all that I care for."

"If so, why do you lose interest in the game when there are no stakes?"

"Oh--well, it's hard to say; but the value of the stake cannot be that
which adds interest, for it is so trifling."

"I'm not so sure of that, Dick.  You have heard gambling talked of as a
disease."

"Yes, but I don't believe it is."

"Do you believe that a miser is a morally diseased man?"

"Well, perhaps he is," returned Sharp; "but a gambler is not necessarily
a miser."

"Yet the two have some symptoms of this moral disease in common.  The
miser is sometimes rich, nevertheless the covetous spirit is so strong
in him that he gloats over a sixpence, has profound interest in gaining
it, and mourns over it if lost.  You, being well off with a rich and
liberal father, yet declare that the interest of a game is much
decreased if there are no stakes on it."

"The cases are not parallel."

"I did not say they were, but you must admit--indeed you have admitted--
that you have one symptom of this disease in common with the miser."

"What disease?"

"The love of money."

Richard Sharp burst into a laugh at this, a good-humoured laugh in which
there was more of amusement than annoyance.

"Tom, Tom," he said, "how your notions about gambling seem to blind you
to the true character of your friends!  Did you ever see me gloating
over gold, or hoarding sixpences, or going stealthily in the dead of
night to secret places for the purpose of counting over my wealth?  Have
I not rather, on the contrary, got credit among my friends for being
somewhat of a spendthrift?  But go on, old fellow, what more have you to
say against gambling--for you have not yet convinced me?"

"Hold on a bit.  Let me pare off just a morsel of my monkey's nose--
there, that's about as near perfection as is possible in a monkey.  What
a pity that he has not life enough to see his beautiful face in a glass!
But perhaps it's as well, for he would never see himself as others see
him.  Men never do.  No doubt monkeys are the same.  Well now,"
continued Blunt, again laying down the stick, and becoming serious, "try
if you can see the matter in this light.  Two gamblers meet.  Not
blacklegs, observe, but respectable men, who nevertheless bet much, and
play high, and keep `books,' etcetera.  One is rich, the other poor.
Each wishes ardently to gain money from his friend.  This is a somewhat
low, unmanly wish, to begin with; but let it pass.  The poor one has a
wife and family to keep, and debts to pay.  Many thousands of men, ay,
and women, are in the same condition, and work hard to pay their debts.
Our poor gambler, however, does not like work.  He prefers to take his
chance at gambling; it is easier, he thinks, and it is certainly, in a
way, more exciting than work.  Our rich gambler has no need to work, but
he also likes excitement, and he loves money.  Neither of these men
would condescend for one moment to ask a gift of money from the other,
yet each is so keen to obtain his friend's money that they agree to
stake it on a chance, or on the issue of a contest.  For one to _take_
the money from the other, who does not wish to part with it, would be
unfair and wrong, of course; but their agreement gets rid of the
difficulty.  It has not altered the _conditions_, observe.  Neither of
them wishes to give up his money, but an arrangement has been come to,
in virtue of which one consents to be a defrauder, and the other to be
defrauded.  Does the agreement make wrong right?"

"I think it does, because the gamblers have a right to make what
agreement they please, as it is between themselves."

"Hold there, Dick.  Suppose that the poor man loses.  Is it then between
themselves?  Does not the rich gambler walk away with the money that was
due to the poor one's butcher, baker, brewer, etcetera?"

"But the rich one did not know that.  It is not his fault."

"That does not free the poor gambler from the dishonourable act of
risking money which was not his own; and do you really think that if the
rich one did know it he would return the money?  I think not.  The
history of gambling does not point to many, if any, such cases of
self-sacrifice.  The truth is that selfishness in its meanest form is at
the bottom of all gambling, though many gamblers may not quite see the
fact.  I want your money.  I am too proud to ask it.  I dare not demand
it.  I cannot cajole you out of it.  I will not rob you.  You are
precisely in the same mind that I am.  Come, let us resort to a trick,
let us make an arrangement whereby one of us at least shall gain his
sneaking, nefarious, unjust end, and we will, anyhow, have the
excitement of leaving to chance which of us is to be the lucky man.
Chance and luck!  Dick Sharp, there is no such condition as chance or
luck.  It is as surely fixed in the mind of God which gambler is to gain
and which to lose as it is that the morrow shall follow to-day."

"My dear Blunt, I had no idea you were such a fatalist," said Sharp in
surprise.

"I am not a fatalist in the sense you mean," returned his friend.
"Everything has been fixed from the beginning."

"Is not that fatalism of the most pronounced nature, Tom?"

"You don't seem to see that, among other fixtures, it was fixed that
free-will should be given to man, and with it the right as well as the
power to fix many things for himself, also the responsibility.  Without
free-will we could have had no responsibility.  The mere fact that God
of course _knew_ what each man would will, did not alter the fixed
arrangement that man has been left perfectly free to will as he pleases.
I do not say that man is free to _do_ as he pleases.  Sometimes the
doing is permitted; sometimes it is interfered with--never the willing.
That is always and for ever free.  Gamblers use their free-wills, often
to their own great damage and ruin; just as good men use their
free-wills to their great advantage and happiness.  In both cases they
make free use of the free-wills that have been bestowed on them."

"Then I suppose that you consider gambling, even to the smallest extent,
to be sin?"

"I do."

"Under which of the ten commandments does it fall?"

"`Thou shalt not covet.'"



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

TWO REMARKABLE DREAMS.

Some natures are better than others.  There can be no question about
that.  Some dispositions are born moderately sweet, others are born
slightly sour.  If you doubt the fact, reader, go study Nature, or get
you to an argumentative friend and dispute the point.  We refuse flatly
to enter into a discussion of the subject.

Look at that little boy sleeping there under the railway arch in the
East End of London--not the boy with the black hair and the hook nose
and the square under-jaw, but the one with the curly head, the extremely
dirty face, and the dimpled chin, on the tip of whose snub nose the
rising sun shines with a power that causes it to resemble a glowing
carbuncle on a visage still lying in shadow.

That little boy's disposition is sweet.  You can see it in every line,
in every curve, in every dimple of his dirty little face.  He has not
been sweetened by training, he has had no training--at least none from
man or woman with a view to his good.  He has no settled principles of
any kind, good or bad.  All his actions are the result of impulse based
on mere animal propensity, but, like every other human being, he has a
conscience.  At the time of his introduction to the reader his
conscience is, like himself, asleep, and it has not as yet been much
enlightened.  His name is Stumpy, but he was never christened.

Critical minds will object here that a boy would not be permitted to
sleep under a railway arch, and that London houses would effectually
prevent the rising sun from entering such a place.  To which we reply
that the arch in question was a semi-suburban arch; that it was the
last, (or the first), of a series of arches, an insignificant arch under
which nothing ever ran except stray cats and rats, and that it spanned a
morsel of waste ground which gave upon a shabby street running due east,
up which, every fine morning, the rising sun gushed in a flood of glory.

Each fleeting moment increased the light on Stumpy's upturned nose,
until it tipped the dimpled chin and cheeks and at last kissed his
eyelids.  This appeared to suggest pleasant dreams, for the boy smiled
like a dirty-faced angel.  He even gave vent to an imbecile laugh, and
then awoke.

Stumpy's eyes were huge and blue.  The opening of them was like the
revealing of unfathomable sky through clouds of roseate hue!  They
sparkled with a light all their own in addition to that of the sun, for
there was in them a gleam of mischief as their owner poked his companion
in the ribs and then tugged his hair.

"I say, you let me alone!" growled the companion, turning uneasily on
his hard couch.

"I say, you get up," answered Stumpy, giving the companion a pinch on
the tender part of his arm.  "Come, look alive, Howlet.  I sees a
railway porter and a bobby."

Owlet, whose nose had suggested his name, had been regardless of the
poke, the tug, and the pinch, but was alive to the hint.  He at once
came to the sitting posture on hearing the dreaded name of "bobby," and
rubbed his eyes.  On seeing that there was neither policeman nor guard
near, he uttered an uncomplimentary remark and was about to lie down
again, but was arrested by the animated expression of his comrade's face
and the heaving of his shoulders.

"Why, what ever is the matter with you?" he demanded.  "Are you goin' to
bust yourself wi' larfin', by way of gettin' a happetite for the
breakfast that you hain't no prospect of?"

To this Stumpy replied by pulling from his trousers pocket four shining
pennies, which he held out with an air of triumph.

"Oh!" exclaimed Owlet; and then being unable to find words sufficiently
expressive, he rubbed the place where the front of his waistcoat would
have been if he had possessed one.

"Yes," said Stumpy, regarding the coppers with a pensive air, "I've
slep' with you all night in my 'and, an' my 'and in my pocket, an' my
knees doubled up to my chin to make all snug, an' now I'm going to have
a tuck in--a blow out--a buster--a--"

He paused abruptly, and looking with a gleeful air at his companion,
said--

"But that wasn't what I was laughin' at."

"Well, I suppose it warn't.  What was it, then?"

The boy's eyes sparkled again, and for some moments a half-suppressed
chuckling prevented speech.

"It was a dream," he said at last.

"A dream!" exclaimed Owlet contemptuously.

"I hate dreams.  When I dreams 'em they're always about bobbies and
maginstrates, an' wittles, an' when other fellows tells about 'em
they're so long-winded an' prosy.  But I had a dream too.  What was
yours?"

"My dream was about a bobby," returned his friend.  "See, here it is,
an' I won't be long-winded or prosy, Howlet, so don't growl and spoil
your happetite for that 'ere breakfast that's a-comin'.  I dreamed--let
me see, was it in Piccadilly--no, it was Oxford Street, close by Regent
Street, where all the swells go to promynade, you know.  Well, I sees a
bobby--of course I never can go the length my little toe without seein'
a bobby! but this bobby was a stunner.  You never see'd sitch a feller.
Not that he was big, or fierce, but he had a nose just two-foot-six
long.  I know for certain, for I'm a good judge o' size, besides, I went
straight up to him, as bold as brass, and axed him how long it was, an'
he told me without winkin'.  The strange thing about it is that I wasn't
a bit surprised at his nose.  Wery odd, ain't it, eh, Howlet, that
people never is surprised at anything they sees in dreams?  I do
b'lieve, now, if I was to see a man takin' a walk of a' arternoon with
his head in his coat-tail pocket I'd take it quite as a matter of
course.

"Well, w'en that bobby had told me his nose was two-foot-six inches long
I feels a most unaccountable and astonishin' gush of indignation come
over me.  What it was at I don't know no more nor the man in the moon.
P'r'aps it was the sudden thought of all the troubles that bobbies has
brought on me from the day I was born till now.  Anyhow, I was took
awful bad.  My buzzum felt fit to bust.  I knowed that I must do
somethin' to him or die; so I seized that bobby by the nose, and hauled
him flat down on his breast.  He was so took with surprise that he never
made any struggle, but gived vent to a most awful howl.  My joy at
havin' so easily floored my natural enemy was such that I replied with a
Cherokee yell.  Then I gave his nose a pull up so strong that it
well-nigh broke his neck an' set him straight on his pins again!  Oh!
Howlet, you can't think what a jolly dream it was.  To do it all so
easy, too!"

"Well, what happened arter that?" asked Owlet.

"Nothin' happened after that," returned Stumpy, with a somewhat sad
expression on his usually gleeful visage.  "It's a wery strange thing,
Howlet, that dreams inwariably wanishes away just at the most
interestin' p'int.  Did you ever notice that?"

"Notice it!  I should think I did.  Why the dream that I had w'en I was
layin' alongside o' you was o' that sort exactly.  It was all about
wittles, too, an' it's made me that 'ungry I feels like a ravagin'
wolf."

"Come along, then, Howlet, an' you an' me will ravage somethin' wi' them
browns o' mine.  We'll 'ave a good breakfast, though it should be our
last, an' I'll stand treat."

"You're a trump, Stumpy; an' I'll tell you _my_ dream as we goes along."

"Hall right--but mind you don't come prosy over me.  I can't stand it no
more nor yourself."

"You mind Dick Wilkin, don't you?"

"What--the young man from the country as I've see'd standin' at the dock
gates day after day for weeks without getting took on?"

"That's him," continued Owlet, with a nod, as he shoved his hand into
his trousers pockets.  "He brought a wife and five kids from the country
with him--thinkin' to better hisself in London.  Ha! a sweet little town
for a cove as is 'ard up to better hisself in--ho yes, certingly!"
remarked the precocious boy in a tone of profound sarcasm.

"Well," he continued, "Dick Wilkin came to better hisself an' he set
about it by rentin' a single room in Cherubs Court--a fine saloobrious
spot, as you know, not far from the Tower.  He 'ad a few bobs when he
came, and bought a few sticks o' furniture, but I don't need for to tell
_you_, Stumpy, that the most o' that soon went up the spout, and the
Wilkins was redooced to beggary--waried off an' on with an odd job at
the docks.  It was when they first comed to town that I was down wi'
that fever, or 'flenzy, or somethink o' that sort.  The streets bein' my
usual 'abitation, I 'ad no place in partikler to go to, an' by good
luck, when I gave in, I lay down at the Wilkins' door.  O! but I _was_
bad--that bad that it seemed as if I should be cleared out o' my mortal
carcase entirely--"

"Mulligrumps?" inquired his sympathetic friend.

"No, no.  Nothin' o' that sort, but a kind of hot all-overishness, wi'
pains that--but you can't understand it, Stumpy, if you've never 'ad
it."

"Then I don't want to understand it.  But what has all this to do wi'
your dream?"

"Everythink to do with it, 'cause it was about them I was dreamin'.  As
I was sayin', I fell down at their door, an' they took me in, and Mrs
Wilkin nussed me for weeks till I got better.  Oh, she's a rare nuss is
Mrs Wilkin.  An' when I began to get better the kids all took to me.  I
don't know when I would have left them, but when times became bad, an'
Dick couldn't git work, and Mrs Wilkin and the kids began to grow thin,
I thought it was time for me to look out for myself, an' not remain a
burden on 'em no longer.  I know'd they wouldn't let me away without a
rumpus, so I just gave 'em the slip, and that's 'ow I came to be on the
streets again, an' fell in wi' you, Stumpy."

"'Ave you never seen 'em since?"

"Never."

"You ungrateful wagibone!"

"What was the use o' my goin' to see 'em w'en I 'ad nothin' to give
'em?" returned Owlet in an apologetic tone.

"You might 'ave given 'em the benefit of your adwice if you 'ad nothin'
else.  But what did you dream about 'em?"

"I dreamt that they was all starvin'--which ain't unlikely to be true--
an' I was so cut up about it, that I went straight off to a butcher's
shop and stole a lot o' sasengers; then to a baker's and stole a loaf
the size of a wheel-barrer; then to a grocer's and stole tea an' sugar;
an' the strange thing was that neither the people o' the shops nor the
bobbies seemed to think I was stealin'!  Another coorious thing was that
I carried all the things in my pockets--stuffed 'em in quite easy,
though there was 'arf a sack o' coals among 'em!"

"Always the way in dreams," remarked his friend philosophically.

"Yes--ain't it jolly convenient?" continued the other.  "Well, w'en I
got to the 'ouse I set to work, made a rousin' fire, put on the kettle,
cooked the wittles as if I'd bin born and bred in a 'otel, and in less
than five minutes 'ad a smokin' dinner on the table, that would 'ave
busted an alderman.  In course the Wilkins axed no questions.  Father,
mother, five kids, and self all drew in our chairs, and sot down--"

"What fun!" exclaimed Stumpy.

"Ay, but you spoilt the fun, for it was just at that time you shoved
your fist into my ribs, and woke me before one of us could get a bite o'
that grub into our mouths.  If we'd even 'ad time to smell it, that
would 'ave bin somethink to remember."

"Howlet," said the other impressively, "d'ye think the Wilkins is livin'
in the same place still?"

"As like as not."

"Could you find it again?"

"Could I find Saint Paul's, or the Moniment?  I should think so!"

"Come along, then, and let's pay 'em a wisit."

They were not long in finding the place--a dirty court at the farther
end of a dark passage.

Owlet led the way to the top of a rickety stair, and knocked at one of
the doors which opened on the landing.  No answer was returned, but
after a second application of the knuckles, accompanied by a touch of
the toe, a growling voice was heard, then a sound of some one getting
violently out of bed, a heavy tread on the floor, and the door was flung
open.

"What d'ee want?" demanded a fierce, half-drunken man.

"Please, sir, does the Wilkins stop here?"

"No, they don't," and the door was shut with a bang.

"Sweet creature!" observed Stumpy as they turned disappointed away.

"Wonder if his mother 'as any more like 'im?" said Owlet.

"They've 'ad to change to the cellar," said a famished-looking woman,
putting her head out of a door on the same landing.  "D'ye want 'em?"

"In course we does, mother, else we wouldn't ax for 'em.  W'ereabouts is
the cellar?"

"Foot o' this stair."

Descending to the regions below, the two boys groped their way along an
underground passage till they came to a door.  It was opened by a woman,
who timidly demanded what they wanted.

"It's me, Missis Wilkin.  'Ave you forgotten Howlet?"

With an exclamation of surprise and joy the woman flung the door wide,
seized Owlet, dragged him into the room, and embraced him with as much
affection as if he had been her own child.  Instantly there arose a
shout of juvenile joy, and Stumpy could see, in the semi-darkness, that
four little creatures were helping their mother to overwhelm his friend,
while a fifth--a biggish girl--was prevented from joining them by the
necessity that lay on her to take care of the baby.

When the greetings were over, the sad condition of the family was soon
explained, and a single glance round sufficed to show that they had
reached the lowest state of destitution.  It was a back room rather than
a cellar, but the dirty pane of thick glass near the roof admitted only
enough of light to make its wretchedness visible.  A rickety table, two
broken chairs, and a bedstead without a bottom was all the furniture
left, and the grate was empty.

"We've been obleeged to pawn everything," said Mrs Wilkin, with
difficulty suppressing a sob, "and I need hardly tell you why," she
added, with a glance at the children, who were living skeletons.

The baby was perhaps the saddest object there, for it was so thin and
weak that it had not strength to cry--though the faces which it
frequently made were obviously the result of an effort to do so.

Much interested in the scene, young Stumpy stood admiring it
patronisingly for a little, but when he heard the poor woman tell of
their desperate struggle to merely keep themselves alive, his feelings
were touched, and when he learned that not a bite of food had passed
their lips since the previous morning, a sudden impulse swelled his
little breast.  He clutched his four pennies tightly; glanced quickly
round; observed an empty basket in a corner; caught it up, and left the
place hurriedly.

He had scarcely gone when the father of the family entered.  The
expression of his face and his whole bearing and aspect told eloquently
of disappointment as he sat down with a heavy sigh.

"Stumped again," he said; "only a few hands took on."

The words sounded as a death-knell to the famishing family, and the man
himself was too much cut up to take notice of the return of his friend
Owlet, except by a slight nod of recognition.

Meanwhile Stumpy ran along several streets in quest of food.  He had not
far to run in such a locality.  At a very small grocer's shop he
purchased one halfpenny worth of tea and put it in his basket.  To this
he added one farthing's worth of milk, which the amiable milkman let him
have in a small phial, on promise of its being returned.  Two farthings
more procured a small supply of coal, which he wrapped in two cabbage
leaves.  Then he looked about for a baker.  One penny farthing of his
fund having been spent, it behoved him to consider that the staff of
life must be secured in preference to luxuries.

At this point the boy's nose told him of a most delicious smell which
pervaded the air.  He stood still for a moment and sniffed eagerly.

"Ah, ain't it prime?  I've jist 'ad some," said another much smaller and
very ragged street-boy who had noticed the sniff.

"What ever is it?" demanded Stumpy.

"Pea-soup," answered the other.

"Where?"

"Right round the corner.  Look alive, they're shovellin' it out like one
o'clock for _fard'ns_!"

Our hero waited for no more.  He dashed round the corner, and found a
place where the Salvation Army was dispensing farthing and halfpenny
breakfasts to a crowd of the hungriest and raggedest creatures he had
ever seen, though his personal experience of London destitution was
extensive.

"Here you are," said a smiling damsel in a poke bonnet.  "I see you're
in a hurry; how much do you want?"

"'Ow much for a fard'n?" asked Stumpy, with the caution natural to a man
of limited means.

A small bowl full of steaming soup was placed before him and a hunk of
bread.

"For _one_ fard'n?" inquired the boy in surprise.

"For one farthing," replied the presiding angel in the poke bonnet.

"Here, young 'ooman," said Stumpy, setting down his basket, "let me 'ave
eleven fard'n's worth right away.  There's a big family awaitin' for it
an' they're all starvin', so do make haste."

"But, dear boy, you've brought nothing to carry the soup in."

Stumpy's visage fell.  The basket could not serve him here, and the rate
at which the soup was being ladled out convinced him that if he were to
return for a jug there would not be much left for him.

Observing his difficulty, the attendant said that she would lend him a
jug if he would promise to bring it back.  "Are you an honest boy?" she
asked, with an amused look.

"About as honest as most kids o' the same sort."

"Well, I'll trust you--and, mind, God sees you.  There, now, don't you
fall and break it."

Our hero was not long in returning to the dreary cellar, with the eleven
basins of soup and eleven hunks of bread--all of which, with the
previously purchased luxuries, he spread out on the rickety table, to
the unutterable amazement and joy of the Wilkin family.

Need we say that it was a glorious feast?  As there were only two
chairs, the table was lifted inside of the bottomless bed, and some of
the young people sat down on the frame thereof on one side, and some on
the other side, while Mrs Wilkin and her husband occupied the places of
honour at the head and foot.  There was not much conversation at first.
Hunger was too exacting, but in a short time tongues began to wag.  Then
the fire was lighted, and the kettle boiled, and the half-pennyworth of
tea infused, and thus the sumptuous meal was agreeably washed down.
Even the baby began--to recover under the genial influence of warm food,
and made faces indicative of a wish to crow--but it failed, and went to
sleep on sister's shoulder instead.  When it was all over poor Mrs
Wilkin made an attempt to "return thanks" for the meal, but broke down
and sobbed her gratitude.

Reader, this is no fancy sketch.  It is founded on terrible fact, and
gives but a faint idea of the wretchedness and poverty that prevail in
London--even the London of _to-day_!

THE END.





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