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´╗┐Title: Saved by the Lifeboat
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Saved by the Lifeboat" ***

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Saved by the Lifeboat, by R.M. Ballantyne.

________________________________________________________________________
This book is mainly to describe the lifeboat service, and how private
individuals can donate the money for building a new lifeboat.

We start off with a wreck just occurring near a little seaside village,
and how the local men rushed down to the beach to do what they could to
save life.  We then move to the offices of a mean grasping shipowner,
who will do anything to avoid properly equipping his ships with what
they would need if disaster struck.  Eventually he is brought to a more
sensible state of mind, and donates money for a new lifeboat.

There is a good fund-raising chapter, and it is interesting how very
much the same today's appeals for the lifeboat service are, though of
course today's lifeboat is a very different item to the lifeboats of
over a hundred years ago.

________________________________________________________________________
SAVED BY THE LIFEBOAT, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE WRECK IN THE BAY.

On a dark November afternoon, not many years ago, Captain Boyns sat
smoking his pipe in his own chimney-corner, gazing with a somewhat
anxious expression at the fire.  There was cause for anxiety, for there
raged at the time one of the fiercest storms that ever blew on the
shores of England.

The wind was howling in the chimney with wild fury; slates and tiles
were being swept off the roofs of the fishermen's huts and whirled up
into the air as if they had been chips of wood; and rain swept down and
along the ground in great sheets of water, or whirled madly in the air
and mingled with the salt spray that came direct from the English
Channel; while, high and loud above all other sounds, rose the loud
plunging roar of the mighty sea.

"I fear there will be a call before long, Nancy, for the services of the
new lifeboat," said Captain Boyns, rising and taking down an oilcloth
coat and sou'-wester, which he began to put on leisurely; "I'll go down
to the beach and see what's doin' at the Cove."

The captain was a fine specimen of a British sailor.  He was a massive
man, of iron build, and so tall that his sou'-wester almost touched the
ceiling of his low-roofed parlour.  His face was eminently masculine,
and his usual expression was a compound of sternness, gravity, and
good-humour.  He was about forty years of age, and, unlike the men of
his class at that time, wore a short curly black beard and moustache,
which, with his deeply bronzed countenance, gave him the aspect of a
foreigner.

"God help those on the sea," said Mrs Boyns, in reply to her husband's
remark; "I'm thankful, Dan, that you are on shore this night."

Nancy was a good-looking, lady-like woman of thirty-three or
thereabouts, without anything particularly noteworthy about her.  She
was busy with her needle at the time we introduce her, and relapsed into
silence, while her stalwart husband pulled on a pair of huge sea-boots.

"Did you hear a gun, Nancy?" cried the captain, as a terrific blast
shook every timber in the cottage--"there! ain't that it again?"

Nancy listened intently, but could hear nothing save the raging of the
storm.  The captain completed his toilet, and was about to leave the
room when the door suddenly burst open, and a lad of about fourteen
years of age sprang in.

"Father," he cried, his eyes flashing with excitement, "there's a brig
on the sands, and they are going to launch the new lifeboat!"

"Whereaway is't, lad?" asked Boyns, as he buttoned up his coat.

"To lee'ard of the breakwater."

"Oh Harry, don't be too venturesome," cried Mrs Boyns earnestly, as her
strapping boy was about to follow his father out into the pelting storm.

Harry, who was tall and strong for his age, and very like his father in
many respects, turning round with a hearty smile, cried, "No fear,
mother," and next instant was gone.

The scene on the beach when father and son reached it was very
impressive.  So furious was the gale that it tore up sand and gravel and
hurled it against the faces of the hardy men who dared to brave the
storm.  At times there were blasts so terrible that a wild shriek, as if
of a storm-fiend, rent the air, and flakes of foam were whirled madly
about.  But the most awful sight of all was the seething of the sea as
it advanced in a succession of great breaking "rollers" into the bay,
and churned itself white among the rocks.

Out among these billows, scarce visible in the midst of the conflicting
elements, were seen the dark hull, shattered masts, and riven sails of a
large brig, over which the waves made clear breaches continually.

In the little harbour of the seaport, which was named Covelly, a number
of strong men were engaged in hastily launching a new lifeboat, which
had been placed at that station only three weeks before, while,
clustering about the pier, and behind every sheltered nook along the
shore, were hundreds of excited spectators, not a few of whom were
women.

Much earnest talk had there been among the gossips in the town when the
lifeboat referred to arrived.  Deep, and nautically learned, were the
discussions that had been held as to her capabilities, and great the
longing for a stiffish gale in order that her powers might be fairly
tested in rough weather, for in those days lifeboats were not so
numerous as, happily, they now are.  Many of the town's-people had only
heard of such boats; few had seen, and not one had ever had experience
of them.  After her arrival the weather had continued tantalisingly calm
and fine until the day of the storm above referred to, when at length it
changed, and a gale burst forth with such violence that the bravest men
in the place shook their heads, and said that no boat of any kind
whatever could live in such a sea.

When, however, the brig before referred to was seen to rush helplessly
into the bay and to strike on the sands where the seas ran most
furiously, all lent a willing hand to launch the new lifeboat into the
harbour, and a few men, leaping in, pulled her across to the stairs near
the entrance, where a number of seamen were congregated, holding on
under the lee of the parapet-wall, and gazing anxiously at the fearful
scene outside.

"Impossible!" said one; "no boat could live in such a sea for half a
minute."

"The moment she shows her nose outside the breakwater she'll capsize,"
observed another.

"We'll have to risk it, anyhow," remarked a stout young fellow, "for I
see men in the foreshrouds of the wreck, and I, for one, won't stand by
and see them lost while we've got a lifeboat by us.  Why, wot's the use
o' callin' it a lifeboat if it can't do more than other boats?"

As he spoke there came an unusually furious gust which sent a wave right
over the pier, and well-nigh swept away one or two of them.  The
argument of the storm was more powerful than that of the young sailor--
no one responded to his appeal, and when the boat came alongside the
stairs, none moved to enter her except himself.

"That's right, Bob Gaston," cried one of the four men who had jumped
into the boat when she was launched, "I know'd you would be the first."

"And I won't be the last either," said young Gaston, looking back at the
men on the pier with a smile.

"Right, lad!" cried Captain Boyns, who came up at the instant and leaped
into the boat.  "Come, lads, we want four more hands--no, no, Harry," he
added, pushing back his son; "your arms are not yet strong enough; come
lads, we've no time to lose."

As he spoke, a faint cry was heard coming from the wreck, and it was
seen that one of the masts had gone by the board, carrying, it was
feared, several poor fellows along with it.  Instantly there was a rush
to the lifeboat!  All thought of personal danger appeared to have been
banished from the minds of the fishermen when the cry of distress broke
on their ears.  The boat was overmanned, and old Jacobs, the coxswain,
had to order several of them to go ashore again.  In another minute they
were at the mouth of the harbour, and the men paused an instant as if to
gather strength for the mortal struggle before quitting the shelter of
the breakwater, and facing the fury of wind and waves.

"Give way, lads! give way!" shouted old Jacobs, as he stood up in the
stern-sheets and grasped the steering oar.

The men bent to the oars with all their might, and the boat leaped out
into the boiling sea.  This was not one of those splendid boats which
now line the shores of the United Kingdom; nevertheless, it was a noble
craft--one of the good, stable, insubmergible and self-emptying kind
which were known as the Greathead lifeboats, and which for many years
did good service on our coasts.  It sat on the raging waters like a
swan, and although the seas broke over it again and again, it rose out
of the water buoyantly, and, with the brine pouring from its sides, kept
end-on to the seas, surmounting them or dashing right through them,
while her gallant crew strained every muscle and slowly urged her on
towards the wreck.

At first the men on shore gazed at her in breathless anxiety, expecting
every moment to see her overturned and their comrades left to perish in
the waves; but when they saw her reappear from each overwhelming billow,
their hearts rose with a rebound, and loud prolonged huzzas cheered the
lifeboat on her course.  They became silent again, however, when
distance and the intervening haze of spray and rain rendered her motions
indistinct, and their feelings of anxiety became more and more intense
as they saw her draw nearer and nearer to the wreck.

At last they reached it, but no one on the pier could tell with what
success their efforts were attended.  Through the blinding spray they
saw her faintly, now rising on the crest of a huge wave, then
overwhelmed by tons of water.  At last she appeared to get close under
the stern of the brig, and was lost to view.

"They're all gone," said a fisherman on the pier, as he wiped the salt
water off his face; "I know'd that no boat that ever wos built could
live in that sea."

"Ye don't know much yet, Bill, 'bout anything a'most," replied an old
man near him.  "Why, I've see'd boats in the East, not much better than
two planks, as could go through a worse surf than that."

"May be so," retorted Bill, "but I know--hallo! is that her coming off?"

"That's her," cried several voices--"all right, my hearties."

"Not so sure o' that," observed another of the excited band of men who
watched every motion of the little craft intently,--"there--why--I do
believe there are more in her now than went out in her, what think 'ee,
Dick?"

Dick did not reply, for by that time the boat, having got clear of the
wreck, was making for the shore, and the observers were all too intent
in using their eyes to make use of their tongues.  Coming as she did
before the wind, the progress of the lifeboat was very different from
what it had been when she set out.  In a few minutes she became
distinctly visible, careering on the crest of the waves towards the
harbour mouth, and then it was ascertained beyond doubt that some at
least, if not all, of the crew of the brig had been rescued.  A short
sharp Hurrah! burst from the men on the outlook when this became
certain, but they relapsed into deep silence again, for the return of
the boat was more critical than its departure had been.  There is much
more danger in running before a heavy sea than in pulling against it.
Every roaring billow that came into the bay near the Cove like a green
wall broke in thunder on the sands before reaching the wreck, and as it
continued its furious career towards the beach it seemed to gather fresh
strength, so that the steersman of the lifeboat had to keep her stern
carefully towards it to prevent her from turning broadside on--or, as it
is nautically expressed, broaching to.  Had she done so, the death of
all on board would have been almost inevitable.  Knowing this, the men
on the pier gazed with breathless anxiety as each wave roared under the
boat's stern, lifted it up until it appeared perpendicular; carried it
forward a few yards with fearful velocity, and then let it slip back
into the trough of the sea.

But the boat was admirably managed, and it was seen, as she drew near,
that the steering oar was held in the firm grip of Captain Boyns.  On it
came before the gale with lightning speed towards the harbour mouth; and
here a new danger had to be faced, for the entrance was narrow, and the
seas were sweeping not into but athwart it, thereby rendering the danger
of being dashed against the pier-end very great indeed.

"Missed it!" burst from several mouths as the boat flew round the head
of the breakwater and was overwhelmed by a heavy sea which rendered her
for one moment unmanageable, but almost as soon as filled she was again
emptied through the discharging tubes in her floor.

"No fear of father missing it," exclaimed young Harry Boyns, with a
proud look and flashing eye as he saw the stalwart form of the captain
standing firm in the midst of the foam with his breast pressed hard
against the steering oar.

"Back your starboard oars!  Hold water hard!" shouted several voices.

"She's round! hurrah!" cried Harry, as the boat almost leaped out of the
foam and sprang into the comparatively smooth water at the harbour
mouth.  The rowers gave vent to a short shout of triumph, and several
worn, exhausted seamen in the bottom of the boat were seen to wave their
hands feebly.  At the same time, Captain Boyns shouted in a deep loud
voice--"All saved, thank God!" as they swept towards the land.

Then did there arise from the hundreds of people assembled on and near
the pier a ringing cheer, the like of which had never been heard before
in Covelly.  Again and again it was repeated while the lifeboat shot up
on the beach, and was fairly dragged out of the sea, high and dry, by
many eager hands that were immediately afterwards extended to assist the
saved crew of the brig to land.

"Are all saved, father?" asked Harry Boyns, who was first at the side of
the boat.

"Ay, lad, every one.  Fifteen all told, includin' a woman and a little
girl.  Lend a hand to get the poor things up to our house, Harry," said
the captain, lifting the apparently inanimate form of a young girl over
the side as he spoke; "she ain't dead--only benumbed a little with the
cold."

Many hands were stretched out, but Harry thrust all others aside, and,
receiving the light form of the child in his strong arms, bore her off
to his father's cottage, leaving his comrades to attend to the wants of
the others.

"Oh Harry!" exclaimed Mrs Boyns, when her son burst into the house, "is
your father safe?"

"Ay, safe and well," he cried.  "Look sharp, mother--get hot blankets
and things ready, for here's a little girl almost dead with cold.  She
has just been rescued from a wreck--saved by the new lifeboat!"



CHAPTER TWO.

DESCRIBES A MERCHANT AND HIS GOD, AND CONCLUDES WITH "A MESSAGE FROM THE
SEA."

A close-fisted, hard-hearted, narrow-minded, poor-spirited man was John
Webster, Esquire, merchant and shipowner, of Ingot Lane, Liverpool.  And
yet he was not altogether without good points.  Indeed, it might be said
of him that if he had been reared under more favourable circumstances he
might have been an ornament to society and a blessing to his country,
for he was intelligent and sociable, and susceptible to some extent of
tender influences, when the indulging of amiable feelings did not
interfere with his private interests.  In youth he had even gone the
length of holding some good principles, and was known to have done one
or two noble things--but all this had passed away, for as he grew older
the hopeful springs were dried up, one by one, by an all-absorbing
passion--the love of money--which ultimately made him what he was, a
disgrace to the class to which he belonged, and literally (though not,
it would seem, in the eye of law) a wholesale murderer!

At first he began by holding, and frequently stating, the opinion that
the possession of much money was a most desirable thing; which
undoubtedly was--and is, and will be as long as the world lasts--
perfectly true, if the possession be accompanied with God's blessing.
But Mr Webster did not even pretend to look at the thing in that light.
He scorned to make use of the worldly man's "Oh, of course, of course,"
when that idea was sometimes suggested to him by Christian friends.  On
the contrary, he boldly and coldly asserted his belief that "God, if
there was a God at all, did not interfere in such matters, and that for
his part he would be quite satisfied to let anybody else who wanted it
have the blessing if he only got the money."  And so it pleased God to
give John Webster much money without a blessing.

The immediate result was that he fell in love with it, and, following
the natural laws attached to that vehement passion, he hugged it to his
bosom, became blind to everything else, and gave himself entirely up to
it with a self-denying devotion that robbed him of much of his natural
rest, of nearly all his graces, and most of his happiness--leaving him
with no hope in this world, save that of increasing his stores of money,
and with no hope for the world to come at all.

The abode of Mr Webster's soul was a dingy little office with dirty
little windows, a miserable little fireplace, and filthy little chairs
and tables--all which were quite in keeping with the little occupant of
the place.  The abode of his body was a palatial residence in the
suburbs of the city.  Although Mr Webster's soul was little, his body
was large--much too large indeed for the jewel which it enshrined, and
which was so terribly knocked about inside its large casket that its
usual position was awry, and it never managed to become upright by any
chance whatever.

To the former abode Mr Webster went, body and soul, one dark November
morning.  Having seated himself before his desk, he threw himself back
in his chair and began to open his letters--gazing with a placid smile,
as he did so, at the portrait of his deceased wife's father--a very
wealthy old gentleman--which hung over the fireplace.

We omitted to mention, by the way, that Mr Webster had once been
married.  This trifling little event of his life occurred when he was
about forty-eight years of age, and was a mercantile transaction of an
extremely successful kind, inasmuch as it had brought him, after
deducting lawyers' fees, stamps, duties, lost time in courtship,
wedding-tour expenses, doctor's fees, deathbed expenses, etcetera, a
clear profit of sixty thousand pounds.  To be sure there were also the
additional expenses of four years of married life, and the permanent
board, lodging, and education of a little daughter; but, all things
considered, these were scarcely worth speaking of; and in regard to the
daughter--Annie by name--she would in time become a marketable
commodity, which might, if judiciously disposed of, turn in a
considerable profit, besides being, before she was sold, a useful
machine for sewing on buttons, making tea, reading the papers aloud,
fetching hats and sticks and slippers, etcetera.  There had, however,
been a slight drawback--a sort of temporary loss--on this concern at
first, for the piece of goods became damaged, owing to her mother's
death having weighed heavily on a sensitive and loving spirit, which
found no comfort or sympathy at home, save in the devoted affection of
an old nurse named Niven.  When Annie reached the age of six years, the
doctors ordered change of air, and recommended a voyage to the West
Indies.  Their advice was followed.  Nothing was easier.  Mr Webster
had many ships on the sea.  These were of two classes.  The first class
consisted of good, new, well found and manned ships, with valuable
cargoes on board which were anxiously watched and longed for; the second
class comprised those which were old, worn-out, and unseaworthy, and
which, being insured beyond their value, might go to the bottom when
they pleased.

One of the best of the first class was selected--the _Water Lily_, A1 on
Lloyd's--and in it Annie, with her nurse, was sent to sea for the
benefit of her health.  The parting was a somewhat important event in
Mr Webster's life, for it convinced him, to his own surprise, that his
power to love a human being was not yet utterly gone!  Annie's arms
clasped convulsively round his neck at the moment of parting--her
sobbing "Good-bye, darling papa," had stirred depths which had lain
unmoved almost from the days of early manhood.  But the memory of this
passed away as soon as he turned again to gaze upon the loved
countenance of his yellow mistress.

The voyage did Annie much good.  The short residence in Demerara, while
the vessel was discharging cargo and reloading, wrought wonders, and a
letter, forwarded by a ship that sailed a short time after their arrival
in "foreign parts," told Mr Webster that he might expect to see his
daughter home again, sound and well, in a month or two at the farthest.

But, to return from this digression to the abode of Mr Webster's
soul:--

Having looked at the portrait of his late wife's father for a moment and
smiled, he glanced at the letter in his hand and frowned.  Not because
he was displeased, but because the writing was cramped and difficult to
read.  However, the merchant was accustomed to receive such letters from
seafaring men on many subjects of interest; he therefore broke the seal
and set himself patiently to decipher it.  Immediately his countenance
became ghastly pale, then it flushed up and became pale again, while he
coughed and gasped once or twice, and started up and sat down abruptly.
In fact Mr Webster exhibited all the signs of having received a severe
shock, and an eye-witness might have safely concluded that he had just
read the news of some great mercantile loss.  So it was in one sense--
but that was not the ordinary sense.

The letter in question was in the handwriting of a fussy officious
"bumble" friend of the wealthy man, who dwelt in the town of Covelly.
It ran as follows:

  "My dear Sir,--I write in great haste, and in much perturbation,
  having just heard from my servant of the wreck of your ship, the
  _Water Lily_, in Covelly Bay.  She does not seem to be quite sure,
  however, of the name, and says that the only man who has been rescued
  is scarcely able to speak, so that I do sincerely hope my domestic,
  who is a stupid old woman, may turn out to be mistaken.  I am on the
  point of hasting down to the shore to ascertain the truth for myself,
  but am obliged to write to you this brief and unsatisfactory account
  of what I have heard, in order to save the post, which is just being
  closed.  You shall hear from me again, of course, by the next mail.--I
  remain, my dear sir, in much anxiety, your most obedient humble
  servant,

  "JOSEPH DOWLER."

It chanced that at the moment the above letter was handed to the
postmaster, and while the wax was being melted before the final sealing
of the post-bag, a sailor lad, drenched to the skin and panting
vehemently, dashed into the office.

"Stop! stop!" he cried, "a letter--about the wreck--the _Water Lily_--to
the owners--not too late, I hope?"

"No, no, just in time.  Here, in with it.  There, all right.  Now, Jim,
off with 'ee."

The postman jumped on his vehicle, the whip cracked, and in another
minute the Royal Mail was gone.  Thus it came to pass that two epistles
reached Mr Webster that morning from Covelly.  But in the extreme
agitation of his spirit, he did not observe the other letter which lay
among the usual morning mass that still awaited examination.  After
reading the letter twice, and turning it over with trembling hands, as
if he wished there were more in it, he pronounced a deep malediction on
his "humble" friend, and rang the bell for his confidential clerk, who
was an unusually meek, mild, and middle-aged little man, with a bald
head, a deprecatory expression of countenance, and a pen behind his ear.

"Mr Grinder," said Mr Webster, putting strong constraint on himself,
and pretending to be quite composed, "a letter from Covelly informs me
that it is feared the _Water Lily_ has been wrecked in--"

"The _Water Lily_, sir!" exclaimed Grinder, starting as if he had
received an electric shock.

"I spoke audibly, did I not?" said Mr Webster, turning with a sharp
look on his confidential clerk.

"Ye-es, sir, but, I--Miss An--" The poor man could get no further, being
of a timid, nervous temperament, and Mr Webster, paying no attention to
his remark, was going on to say that he intended to go by the mail to
Covelly without delay to ascertain the truth for himself, when he was
interrupted by the confidential clerk who exclaimed in a burst of
agitation--

"There were _two_ letters, sir, from Covelly this morning--did you
read--"

He stopped, for already his employer had sought for, found, and torn
open the second epistle, which was written in a fair, legible hand.  It
ran thus:--

  "SIR,--My father, Captain Boyns, directs me to inform you that your
  daughter, Miss Annie, has been saved from the wreck of your brig, the
  _Water Lily_, which ran aground here this afternoon, and has become a
  total wreck.  Your daughter's nurse and the crew have also been
  rescued by our new lifeboat, which is a noble craft, and, with God's
  blessing, will yet do good service on this coast.  I have pleasure in
  adding, from myself, that it was my father who rescued your child.
  She fell into the sea when being passed from the wreck into the boat,
  and sank, but my father dived and brought her up in safety.

  "Much of the brig's cargo has been lost, I regret to say, but a good
  deal of it has been washed ashore and saved in a damaged state.  The
  captain says that defective compasses were the cause of the disaster.
  There is not time to give you a more particular account, as it is
  close upon post-time.  Miss Annie sends you her kindest love, and bids
  me say she is none the worse of what she has passed through.--I am,
  sir, your obedient servant,

  "HARRY BOYNS."

"Thank God!" exclaimed Mr Webster fervently.  "Why, what are you
staring at, Mr Grinder?" he added, on observing that his confidential
servant was gazing at him with an expression of considerable surprise.

"Excuse me, sir," stammered the unfortunate man, "I--I--in fact--you
have so often told me that you did not believe in God that I fancied--
I--wondered--"

"Really, Mr Grinder, I must beg of you to confine your remarks in
future entirely to matters of business.  The so-called religious
observations which you sometimes venture to make in my presence are
extremely distasteful, I assure you.  In explanation of what I said,
however, I may tell you that this letter informs me of my daughter's
safety, and I merely used the expression of satisfaction that is usual
on such occasions.  The phrase, as it is generally understood (except by
weak men), commits me to nothing more.  But enough of this.  I find that
the _Water Lily_ has indeed been lost.  It was fully insured, I
believe?"

"Yes, sir, it was."

"Very well; report the matter without delay.  I will go to Covelly
to-night, and shall probably be back to-morrow."

Saying this, Mr Webster left the office, and, on the evening of that
day, found himself seated in Captain Boyns's parlour, with little Annie
on his knee.  Her pretty head was on his shoulder, her fair curls
straggled over his chest, and her round little arms tightly encircled
his large body as far as they could reach, while she sobbed on his bosom
and kissed him by turns.

This was quite a new experience in the life of the gold-lover.  He had
declined to submit to familiar caresses in former years, but on such an
occasion as the present, he felt that common propriety demanded the
sacrifice of himself to some extent.  He therefore allowed Annie to kiss
him, and found the operation--performed as she did it--much more
bearable than he had anticipated; and when Annie exclaimed with a burst
of enthusiasm, "Oh, dear, dear papa, I did feel such a dreadful longing
for you when the waves were roaring round us!" and gave him another
squeeze, he felt that the market price of the bundle of goods on his
knee was rising rapidly.

"Did you think you were going to be drowned, dear?" said Mr Webster
with the air of a man who does not know very well what to say.

"I'm not sure what I thought," replied Annie smiling through her tears.
"Oh, I was so frightened!  You can't think, papa, how very dreadful it
is to see the water boiling all round, and sometimes over you; and such
awful thumping of the ship, and then the masts breaking; but what I
feared most was to see the faces of the sailors, they were so white, and
they looked as if they were afraid.  Are men ever afraid, papa?"

"Sometimes, Annie; but a white face is not always the sign of fear--that
may be caused by anxiety.  Did any of them refuse to obey orders?"

"No; they were very obedient."

"Did any of them get into the lifeboat before you and nurse!"

"Oh, no; they all refused to move till we were put into it, and some of
them ran to help us, and were very very kind?"

"Then you may be quite sure they were not afraid, however pale their
faces were; but what of yourself, Annie--were you afraid?"

"Oh, dreadfully, and so was poor nurse; but once or twice I thought of
the text that--that--you know who was so fond of,--`Call upon me in the
time of trouble and I will deliver thee,' so I prayed and felt a little
better.  Then the lifeboat came, and, oh! how my heart did jump, for it
seemed just like an answer to my prayer.  I never felt any more fear
after that, except when I fell into the sea; but even then I was not so
frightened as I had been, for I felt somehow that I was sure to be
saved, and I was right, you see, for dear Captain Boyns dived for me.  I
love Captain Boyns!" cried Annie, and here again she kissed her father
and held him so tight that he felt quite angry with Mrs Niven, who
entered at the moment, and said, apologetically--

"Oh! la, sir, I didn't know as Miss Annie was with you.  I only came to
say that everythink is ready, sir, for going 'ome."

"We don't intend to go home," said Mr Webster; "at least not for a day
or two.  I find that Captain Boyns can let us stay here while I look
after the wreck, so you can go and arrange with Mrs Boyns."

During the few days that Mr Webster remained at Coral Cottage (Captain
Boyns's residence), Mrs Niven found, in the quiet, sympathetic Mrs
Boyns, if not a congenial friend, at least a kind and sociable hostess,
and Annie found, in Harry Boyns, a delightful companion, who never
wearied of taking her to the cliffs, the shore, and all the romantic
places of the neighbourhood, while Mr Webster found the captain to be
most serviceable in connection with the wreck.  One result of all this
was that Mr Webster offered Captain Boyns the command of one of his
largest vessels, an offer which was gladly accepted, for the captain
had, at that time, been thrown out of employment by the failure of a
firm, in the service of which he had spent the greater part of his
nautical career.

Another result was, that Mr Webster, at Annie's earnest solicitation,
agreed to make Covelly his summer quarters next year, instead of
Ramsgate, and Mrs Boyns agreed to lodge the family in Coral Cottage.

This having been all settled, Mr Webster asked Captain Boyns, on the
morning of his departure for Liverpool, if he could do anything more for
him, for he felt that to him his daughter owed her life, and he was
anxious to serve him.

"If you could give my son Harry something to do, sir," said Boyns, "you
would oblige me very much.  Harry is a smart fellow and a good seaman.
He has been a short time in the coasting trade; perhaps--"

"Well, yes, I'll see to that," interrupted Mr Webster.  "You shall hear
from me again as to it."

Now the fact is that Mr Webster did not feel attracted by young Boyns,
and he would willingly have had nothing to do with him, but being unable
to refuse the request after having invited it, he ultimately gave him a
situation in one of his coasting vessels which plied between London and
Aberdeen.

About a year after that, Captain Boyns sailed in the _Warrior_, a large
new ship, for the Sandwich Islands and the Chinese seas.

True to his promise, Mr Webster spent the following summer with Annie
and Mrs Boyns at Covelly, and young Boyns so managed matters that he
got his captain to send him down to Covelly to talk with his employer on
business.  Of course, being there, it was natural that he should ask and
obtain leave to spend a few days with his mother; and, of course, it was
quite as natural that, without either asking or obtaining leave, he
should spend the whole of these days in roaming about the shore and
among the cliffs with Annie Webster.

It would be absurd to say that these two fell in love, seeing that one
was only seven and the other fifteen; but there can be no doubt they
entertained some sort of regard for each other, of a very powerful
nature.  The young sailor was wildly enthusiastic, well educated, manly,
and good-looking--little wonder that Annie liked him.  The child was
winning in her ways, simple, yet laughter-loving, and very earnest--less
wonderful that Harry liked _her_!

Another year fled, and again the Websters visited Covelly, and again
Harry spent a few days with his mother; and although Mr Webster did not
get the length of liking the youth, he at last came to the condition of
not disliking him.

Year followed year, and still, each summer, Annie pressed her father to
return to the old place, and he agreed, chiefly because it mattered
little to him where he went.  He regarded the summer trip in the light
of a penance to be paid for the sin of being a member of society and the
head of a household, and placed every minute so wasted to the debit of
the profit and loss account in the mental ledger of his life's affairs,
for it must not be supposed that Mr Webster's character was changed by
the events which followed the rescue of his child from the sea.  True,
he had been surprised out of his habitual hardness for a short time, but
he soon relapsed, if not quite back to the old position, at least so
near to it that the difference was not appreciable.

As time ran on, men begun to look for the return of the _Warrior_, but
that vessel did not make her appearance.  Then they began to shake their
heads and to grow prophetic, while those who were most deeply interested
in the human beings who manned her became uneasy.

"Don't fret over it," said Harry one day to his mother, in a kind,
earnest tone; "you may depend upon it father will turn up yet and
surprise us.  He never lost a ship in his life, and he has sailed in
worse ones than the _Warrior_ by a long way."

"It may be so," replied Mrs Boyns, sadly; "but it is a long, long time
since he went away.  God's will be done.  Whether He gives or takes
away, I shall try to bless His name."

At last Harry gave over attempting to comfort his mother, for he began
to fear that his father's ship was destined to be placed on the dark,
dreary list of those of which it is sometimes said, with terrible
brevity, in the newspapers, "She sailed from port on such and such a
day, and has not since been heard of."

In course of time Harry made one or two trips to the East Indies as
first mate of one of Mr Webster's vessels, and ultimately obtained the
command of one.

At last a day came when there appeared in a Welsh newspaper a paragraph,
which ran thus:--"A Message from the Sea--A bottle, corked and sealed,
was found by a woman on the beach, above Conway, North Wales.  Inside
was a letter containing the following:--

  "`Latitude 44, longitude 15, off Tierra del Fuego.  If this should
  ever reach the shores of England, it will announce to friends at home
  the sad fate of the ship _Warrior_, which sailed from Liverpool on
  13th February 18 hundred and something, bound for China.  We have been
  boarded by pirates: we have been all locked into the cabin, with the
  assurance that we shall be made to walk the plank in half an hour.
  Our last act is to put this in a bottle and drop it overboard.
  Farewell, for this world, my beloved wife and son.'

  "`DANIEL BOYNS, Captain.'"

This letter was forwarded to the owner, and by him was sent to poor Mrs
Boyns.

Alas! how many sailors' wives, in our sea-girt isle, have received
similar "messages from the sea," and lived under the dark cloud of
never-ending suspense--hoping against hope that the dear lost ones might
yet return!



CHAPTER THREE.

SHOWS WHAT SOME MEN WILL DO AND DARE FOR MONEY, AND WHAT SOMETIMES COMES
OF IT.

We must now beg the reader's permission to allow a few more years to
elapse.  Eight have come and gone since the dark day when poor Mrs
Boyns received that message from the sea, which cast a permanent cloud
over her life.  Annie Webster has become a beautiful woman, and Harry
Boyns a bronzed stalwart man.

But things have changed with time.  These two seldom meet now, in
consequence of the frequent absence of the latter on long voyages, and
when they do meet, there is not the free, frank intercourse that there
used to be.  In fact, Mr Webster had long ago begun to suspect that his
daughter's regard for the handsome young sailor was of a nature that
bade fair to interfere with his purposed mercantile transactions in
reference to her, so he wisely sent him off on voyages of considerable
length, hoping that he might chance to meet with the same fate as his
father, and wound up by placing him in command of one of his largest and
most unseaworthy East Indiamen, in the full expectation that both
captain and vessel would go to the bottom together, and thus enable him,
at one stroke, to make a good round sum out of the insurance offices,
and get rid of a troublesome servant!

Gloating over these and kindred subjects, Mr Webster sat one morning in
his office mending a pen, and smiling in a sardonic fashion to the
portrait of his deceased wife's father, when a tap came to the door, and
Harry Boyns entered.

"I have come, sir," he said, "to tell you that the repairs done to the
_Swordfish_ are not by any means sufficient.  There are at least--"

"Please do not waste time, Captain Boyns, by entering upon details,"
said Mr Webster, interrupting him with a bland smile: "I am really
quite ignorant of the technicalities of shipbuilding.  If you will state
the matter to Mr Cooper, whom I employ expressly for--"

"But, sir," interrupted Harry, with some warmth, "I _have_ spoken to Mr
Cooper, and he says the repairs are quite sufficient."

"Well, then, I suppose they are so."

"I assure you, sir," rejoined Harry, "they are not; and as the lives of
passengers as well as men depend upon the vessel being in a seaworthy
condition, I do trust that you will have her examined by some one more
competent to judge than Mr Cooper."

"I have no doubt of Mr Cooper's competence," returned Mr Webster; "but
I will order a further examination, as you seem so anxious about it.
Meanwhile I hope that the ship is being got ready for sea as quickly as
possible."

"There shall be no delay on my part, sir," said Harry, rising; "the ship
has been removed from the Birkenhead Docks, in which you are aware she
has lain for the last eight months, and is now lying in the Brunswick
Dock, taking in cargo.  But I think it a very serious matter, which
demands looking into, the fact that she had no sooner grounded in the
dock, than she sprang a leak which instantly let twenty-eight inches of
water into her, and twice, subsequently, as much as forty inches have
been sounded.  Yet no repairs worthy of the name have been made.  All
that has been done is the pumping of her out daily by the stevedore's
men when their stowing work is finished."

"Has the agent for the underwriters visited her?" inquired Mr Webster.

"He has, sir, but he seems to be of opinion that his responsibility is
at an end because a surveyor from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board had
previously visited her, and directed that she should not be loaded
deeper than twenty-one feet--chalking on the side amidships the six feet
six inches clear beneath which she is not to be allowed to sink."

"Well, well," said Mr Webster, somewhat impatiently, "I will have the
matter looked into.  Good morning, Captain Boyns."

The captain bowed and left the office, and Mr Webster leant back in his
chair, clasped his hands, twirled his thumbs, and smiled grimly at the
old gentleman over the fireplace.

True to his word, however, he had an inspection made of the _Swordfish_.
The inspector was of a kindred spirit with Mr Webster, so that his
report was naturally similar to that of Mr Cooper.  Nothing, therefore,
was done to the vessel--"nothing being needed"--and the loading went on
in spite of the remonstrances of Captain Harry Boyns, who, with all the
energy and persistency of his character, continued to annoy, worry, and
torment every one who possessed the faintest right or power to interfere
in the matter--but all to no purpose; for there are times when neither
facts nor fancies, fair words nor foul, fire, fury, folly, nor
philosophy, will avail to move some "powers that be!"

In a towering fit of indignation Harry Boyns resolved to throw up his
situation; but it occurred to him that this would perhaps be deemed
cowardice, so he thought better of it.  Then he madly thought of going
direct to the President of the Board of Trade and making a solemn
protest, backed by a heart-stirring appeal; but gave up that idea on
recalling to memory a certain occasion on which a deputation of grave,
learned, white-haired gentlemen had gone to London expressly to visit
that august functionary of the State, and beseech him, with all the
earnestness that the occasion demanded, that he would introduce into
Parliament a bill for the better regulation and supervision of ships,
and for preventing the possibility of seamen and passengers being
seduced on board unseaworthy vessels, carried off to sea, and there
murderously drowned in cold blood, as well as in cold water; which
deputation received for answer, that "it was not the intention of
Government, as at present advised, to introduce a measure for providing
more stringent enactments as to the equipments, cargoes, and crews of
passenger vessels!"--a reply which was tantamount to saying that if the
existing arrangements were inadequate to the ends desired, Government
saw no way out of the difficulty, and people must just be left
unprotected, and go to sea to be drowned or spared according as chance
or the cupidity of shipowners might direct!

This was pretty resolute on the part of Government, considering that
above a thousand lives were then, and above two thousand still are, lost
annually on the shores of the United Kingdom; a very large number of
which--if we may believe the argument of facts and the pretty unanimous
voice of the press--are sacrificed because Government refuses to
interfere effectively with the murderous tendencies of a certain class
of the community!

When Harry Boyns thought of all this he sighed deeply, and made up his
mind to remain by the _Swordfish_, and sink or swim with her.  Had he
been more of a man of business, perhaps he might have been more
successful in finding out how to have prevented the evil he foresaw; but
it was the interest of the owner to keep him in the dark as much as
possible, for which end Mr Webster kept him out of the ship's way as
much as he could, and when that was impossible, he kept him so busily
employed that he remained ignorant of a great deal that was said and
done in regard to his vessel.

At length the _Swordfish_ left the Brunswick Dock, _six inches deeper_
than the surveyor had directed, and was towed to the Wellington Dock,
where she took in 120 tons of coke, and sank still deeper.  Harry also
discovered that the equipment of the ship was miserably insufficient for
the long voyage she was intended to make.  This was too much for him to
bear.  He went at once to Mr Webster's office and said that if a deaf
ear was to be turned any longer to his remonstrances he would throw up
his appointment.

Poor Harry could scarcely have taken a more effective step to insure the
turning of the deaf ear to him.

"Oh!" replied Mr Webster, coolly, "if you refuse to take charge of my
vessel, Captain Boyns, I will soon find another to do it."

"I certainly do refuse," said Harry, preparing to leave the office, "and
I think you will find some difficulty in getting any other man to go to
sea in such a ship."

"I differ from you, Captain Boyns.  Good afternoon."

"And if you do, and lives should be lost in consequence," added Harry,
grasping the handle of the door, "I warn you solemnly, that murder will
have been committed by you, whatever the law may say on the subject."

"Good afternoon, Captain Boyns."

"You've got a hard master," said Harry to Grinder as he passed through
the outer office.

The confidential clerk shook his head in a deprecatory way, and smiled.

Next moment Harry Boyns found himself in the street--with nothing to do,
and the wide world before him!

Meanwhile, the loading of the _Swordfish_ went on--also the pumping of
her.  That same day she was visited by a surveyor from the Underwriters'
Association, who found her only five feet clear above water, and still
taking in cargo.  That gentleman called in another surveyor to a
consultation, who agreed with him in pronouncing her overladen.  She was
represented as such to the local Underwriters' Association for which the
surveyor acted, but as the _Swordfish_ was insured in London and not
with them, the Liverpool underwriters did not consider themselves called
upon to interfere.  Their surveyor, however, visited the vessel again, a
few days later, when he found her "only four feet clear," and declared
that, so far from going to Bombay, he should not like to attempt to
cross to Dublin in her in anything like rough weather.

Now it must be observed that all these consultations and investigations
took place in a quiet way.  To the public eye all was "fair and above
board."  Few among the thousands who visited the docks knew much about
deep loading; still less about adequate equipping.  They saw nought but
a "noble ship," well painted, washed, gilded, and varnished, taking
merchandise into her insatiable hold, while the "Yo-heave-ho" of the
seamen rang out cheerily to the rattling accompaniment of chains and
windlass.  Many other ships were there, similarly treated, equally
beautiful, and quite as worthy of the titles "good" and "noble" as the
whited sepulchre is to be styled pure.

A few days before the _Swordfish_ was ready for sea, a new captain was
sent down to her.  This captain was not a "bad man" in the worst sense
of that term--neither was he a "good" one.  Vigour, courage, resolution
when acting in accordance with his inclinations--these were among his
characteristics.  But he was a reckless man, in want of money, out of
employment, and without an appreciable conscience.  In the
circumstances, he was glad to get anything to do, and had been so long
ashore and "in trouble," that he would probably have agreed to take
command of and go to sea in a washing-tub if part paid beforehand for
doing so.

Nevertheless, even this man (Captain Phelps by name) felt some degree of
nervous anxiety on getting on board and examining the state of the ship.
On further acquaintance with her, he was so dissatisfied that he also
resolved to throw up his appointment.  But he had obtained the berth
through the influence of a friend who happened to be acquainted with Mr
Webster.  This "friend" wrote him a stern letter, saying, if he ventured
to do as he proposed, he should never have a ship out of Liverpool
again, as long as he (the friend?) could prevent it!

Captain Phelps was one of those angry men of iron mould, who appear to
take pleasure in daring Fate to do her worst.  On receipt of the letter,
he swore with an awful oath that he would now go to sea in the
_Swordfish_, even if he knew she would go to the bottom in twenty-four
hours after weighing anchor.  Accordingly, having intrenched himself
behind a wall of moral adamant, he went about with quiet indifference,
and let things take their course.  He made no objection whatever when,
in addition to the loading already in the ship, the agents added a deck
cargo of some massive pieces of machinery, weighing thirty tons, and a
supply of coals, the proper receptacle for which below had been filled
with iron goods.  Neither did he utter a word when--after the vessel had
been taken out into the stream by the riggers--he and the owner, agents,
pilot, and crew (only six of which last were A.B.'s), were taken off to
her in a tug and put on board with orders to sail immediately.

Only a few passengers were going.  These were already on board, but some
of their friends went off in the tug to bid them a last farewell.

This was a sad scene, but the captain regarded it with stoical
indifference.  There was a stout, hale old Indian officer going out on a
pleasure trip to his beloved East, and a daughter of the same whom he
hoped to get married "offhand, comfortably there."  There was a sick
nephew of the old officer, going the voyage for the benefit of his
health, on whose wan countenance consumption, if not death, had
evidently set a deep mark.  There were, also, a nurse and a lady's-maid,
and two girls of ten or thirteen years of age--sisters--who were going
to join their father and mother, besides one or two others.  Earnest
loving words passed kindly between these and their relatives and friends
as the moment of parting drew near.

"Don't forget to remember me to Coleman and the rest of `ours,'" cried a
stout elderly man, waving his hand as the tug moved off.

"That I won't, and I shall expect to shake you by the hand again, old
fellow, in a year or two."

"You'll never see him again," thought Captain Phelps, as he stood with
compressed lip and frowning eye on the quarter-deck.

"Good-bye, darling Nelly," cried a lady to one of the sobbing girls from
whom she was parting; "remember the message to mamma."

"Oh! yes," exclaimed the child, trying to look bright, "and we won't be
very long of coming back again."

"You'll never come back again," thought the captain, and he sighed
_very_ slightly as the thought passed through his brain.

"Look alive there, lads," exclaimed the pilot, as the tug sheared away.

Soon the anchor was at the bows, the sails were shaken out, and the
_Swordfish_ began her voyage.

"There's not a piece of spare rope aboard, sir," said the first mate,
coming up to the captain with a blank look; "we can't even get enough to
cat and fish the anchor."

"You can unreeve the tops'l halyards," replied the captain, quietly.

This was done, and the anchor was secured therewith.

"How much water in the hold?" asked the captain.

"Three feet, sir; the carpenter has just sounded.  It seems that the
riggers were at work on the pumps when we came out in the tug, but were
stopped by the agents before we got alongside.  I fear she is very
leaky, sir," said the mate.

"I _know_ she is," replied the captain; "keep the men at the pumps."

That night the weather became what sailors call "dirty," and next
morning it was found that the water had mounted to 4 feet 10 inches.
The pumps had become almost unworkable, being choked with sand, and it
became evident that the voyage thus inauspiciously begun would very soon
be ended.  During the day the "dirty" weather became gale, so that,
although the wind was fair, Captain Phelps determined to run to the
nearest port for shelter.  With a "good ship" this might have been done
easily enough--many a vessel does it during every gale that visits our
stormy shores--but the _Swordfish_ was by this time getting water-logged
and unmanageable.  She drifted helplessly before the gale, and the heavy
seas broke over her continually, sweeping away everything moveable.
Another night passed, and next morning--Sunday--it became plain that she
was settling down so the captain gave orders to get out the long-boat,
and told the passengers to get ready.  Day had broken some time before
this, but the weather was still so thick that nothing could be seen.

"Take a cast of the lead," said the captain.

"Ay, ay, sir," was the prompt reply, but before the order could be
obeyed, the roar of breakers was heard above the howling of the storm,
and the shout, "Land on the port bow!" was instantly followed by "Down
with the helm!" and other orders hurriedly given by the captain and
hastily obeyed by the men.  All too late!  The ship was embayed.  As if
to make their position more painful, the mists cleared partially away,
and revealed the green fields and cottages on shore, with the angry
sea--an impassable caldron of boiling foam--between.

Another instant and the ship struck with a convulsive quiver from stem
to stern.  The billows flew madly over her, the main-mast went by the
board--carrying two of the men to their doom along with it--and the
_Swordfish_, "bound for Bombay," was cast, a total wreck, upon the coast
of Cornwall.



CHAPTER FOUR.

THE RESCUE.

Fortunate is it for this land that those who war for evil and those who
fight for good do so side by side; and well is it for poor humanity that
the bane and the antidote grow together.  The misanthrope sends his
poisonous streams throughout the land, but the philanthropist erects his
dams everywhere to stem the foul torrents and turn them aside.  The
Infidel plants unbelief with reckless hand far and wide, but the
Christian scatters the "Word" broadcast over the land.  The sordid
shipowner strews the coast with wreck and murdered fellow-creatures;
but, thank God, the righteous shipowner--along with other like-minded
men--sends forth a fleet of lifeboats from almost every bay and cove
along the shore to rob the deep of its prey, and rescue the perishing.

In the bay where the _Swordfish_ was stranded there chanced to be a
lifeboat.  Most of her noble crew were, at the time the vessel struck,
in chapel, probably engaged in singing the hymns of the great John
Wesley, or listening to the preaching of the "old, old story" of the
salvation of souls through faith in Jesus Christ.  But there were bodies
to be saved that day as well as souls, and the stout arms of the
lifeboat crew were needed.

The cry was quickly raised, "A wreck in the bay!"  The shout that
naturally followed was, "The lifeboat!"  A stalwart Cornish gentleman
sprang from his pew to serve his Master in another field.  He was the
Honorary Local Secretary of the Lifeboat Institution--a man brimful of
physical energy, and with courage and heart for every good work.  No
time was lost.  Six powerful horses were procured so quickly that it
seemed as if they had started ready harnessed into being.  Willing hands
dragged the lifeboat, mounted on its carriage, from its shed, the horses
were attached, and a loud cheer arose as the huge craft was whirled
along the road towards the bay.  The scene of the wreck was a mile
distant, and a large town had to be traversed on the way thither.
Hundreds of worshippers were on the streets, returning home, with
chastened thoughts and feelings perchance, from church and chapel.
There was excitement, however, in their looks, for the echo of that cry,
"The lifeboat!" had reached the ears of many, and eager inquiries were
being made.  Presently the lifeboat itself, with all its peculiar gear,
came thundering through the town, rudely dispelling, for a few moments,
the solemnity of the Sabbath day.  Hundreds of men, women, and children
followed in its train, and hundreds more joined at every turn of the
main thoroughfare.

"A wreck in the bay!"  "Crew in the rigging!"  "Mainmast gone!"  "She
can't hold long together in such a sea!"  "We'll be in time yet!"
"Hurrah!"

Such were some of the exclamations heard on all sides as the rescuers
dashed along, and the excited multitude irresistibly followed.  Even
females ventured to join the throng, and, holding shawls tightly round
their heads and shoulders, went down on the exposed sands and faced the
pelting storm.

In less than half an hour after the alarm was given, the lifeboat swept
down to the beach, the horses, obedient to the rein, flew round, the
boat's bow was presented to the sea, and the carriage thrust as far into
the surf as was possible.  Then hundreds of willing hands seized the
launching ropes, and the boat, with her crew already seated, and the
oars out, sprang from her carriage into the hissing flood.

A tremendous billow met her.  "Steady lads, give way!" cried the
coxswain, on whose steering everything depended at the first plunge.
The short oars cracked as the men strained every muscle, and shot the
boat, not over, but right through the falling deluge.  Of course it was
filled, but the discharging tubes freed it in a few seconds, and the
cheers of the spectators had scarce burst forth when she rushed out to
meet the succeeding breaker.  There was another breathless moment, when
hundreds of men, eager to vent their surcharged breast in another cheer,
could only gaze and gasp--then a roar, a world of falling foam, and the
lifeboat was submerged.  But the gallant coxswain met the shock straight
as an arrow, cleft the billow, and leaped onward--irresistibly onward--
over, through, and in the teeth of raging wind and waves, until they
were fairly out and dancing on the chaotic ocean.

But, just before this took place, the captain of the _Swordfish_,
ignorant of the fact that the lifeboat was hastening to the rescue,
unfortunately took a fatal step.  Believing that no boat would venture
to put off in such a gale, he ordered the ship's launch to be lowered.
This was done, but it was immediately upset and stove against the side.
Then the jollyboat was lowered, and nine men and the captain got into
it.  The old Indian officer, with his daughter and all the women and
children, were also, with great difficulty, put on board of it.

Captain Phelps was cool and self-possessed in that hour of danger.  He
steered the boat with consummate skill, and succeeded in keeping her
afloat for some time.  On she rushed, as if driven by an irresistible
impulse, amid the cheers of the crowd, and the prayers of many that she
might safely reach the land.  The brave fellows who manned her struggled
hard and well, but in vain.  When the boat was little more three hundred
yards from the shore an immense breaker overtook her.

"She'll be swamped!"  "She's gone!"  "God save her!" and similar cries
burst from those on shore.  Next moment the wave had the boat in its
powerful grasp, tossed her on its crest, whirled her round, and turned
her keel up, leaving her freight of human beings struggling in the sea.

Oh! it was a terrible thing for the thousands on land to stand so close
to those drowning men and women without the power of stretching out a
hand to save!  No one could get near them, although they were so near.
They were tossed like straws on the raging surf.  Now hurled on the
crest of a wave, now sucked into the hollow beneath, and overwhelmed
again and again.  The frail ones of the hapless crew soon perished.  The
strong men struggled on with desperate energy to reach the shore.  Three
of them seized the keel of the boat, but three times were they driven
from their hold by the force of the seas.  Two or three caught at the
floating oars, but most of them were soon carried away by the
under-current.  The captain, however, with five or six of the men, still
struggled powerfully for life, and succeeded in swimming close to the
beach.

Up to this point there was one of the spectators who had stood behind
the shelter of a bush, surveying, with sorrowful countenance, the tragic
scene.  He was a short, but fine-looking and very athletic man--a
champion Cornish wrestler, named William Jeff.  He was a first-rate
boatman, and a bold swimmer.  Fortunately he also possessed a generous,
daring heart.  When this man saw Captain Phelps near the shore, he
sprang forward, dashed into the surf, at the imminent risk of his life,
and caught the captain by the hair.  The retreating water well-nigh
swept the brave rescuer away, but other men of the town, fearless like
himself, leaped forward, joined hands, caught hold of Jeff, and hauled
him safe ashore along with the captain, who was carried away in a state
of insensibility.  Again and again, at the risk of his life, did the
champion wrestler wrestle with the waves and conquer them!  Aided by his
daring comrades he dragged three others from the jaws of death.  Of
those who entered the jolly-boat of the _Swordfish_, only five reached
the land.  These were all sailors, and one of them, Captain Phelps, was
so much exhausted by his exertions that, notwithstanding all that
cordials, rubbing, and medical skill could effect, he sank in a few
minutes, and died.

But while this was occurring on the beach, another scene of disaster was
taking place at the wreck.  The lifeboat, after a severe pull of more
than an hour, reached the vessel.  As she was passing under her stern a
great sea struck the boat and immediately capsized her.  All on board
were at once thrown out.  The boat was, however, one of those
self-righting crafts, which had just at that time been introduced.  She
immediately righted, emptied herself, and the crew climbed into her by
means of the life-lines festooned round her sides; but the brave
coxswain was jammed under her by some wreck, and nearly lost his life--
having to dive three or four times before he could extricate himself.
When at last dragged into the boat by his comrades he was apparently
dead.  It was then discovered that the man who had pulled the stroke oar
had been swept overboard and carried away.  His companions believed him
to be lost, but he had on one of the cork life-belts of the Lifeboat
Institution, and was by it floated to the shore, where a brave fellow
swam his horse out through the surf and rescued him.

Meanwhile, the lifeboat men were so much injured and exhausted that they
were utterly incapable of making any attempt to rescue those who
remained of the crew of the _Swordfish_.  It was as much as they could
do to guide the boat again towards the shore, steered by the second
coxswain, who, although scarcely able to stand, performed his duty with
consummate skill.

Nothing of all this could be seen by the thousands on shore, owing to
the spray which thickened the atmosphere, and the distance of the wreck.
But when the lifeboat came in sight they soon perceived that something
was wrong, and when she drew near they rushed to meet her.  Dismay
filled every breast when they saw the coxswain carried out apparently
dead, with a stream of blood trickling from a wound in his temple, and
learned from the worn-out and disabled crew that no rescue had been
effected.  Immediately the local secretary before mentioned, who had
been all this time caring for those already rescued, and preparing for
those expected, called for a volunteer crew, and the second coxswain at
once shouted, "I'll go again, sir!"  This man's bravery produced a
wonderful moral effect.  He was not permitted to go, being already too
much exhausted, but his example caused volunteers to come forward
promptly.  Among them were men of the coastguard, a body to which the
country is deeply indebted for annually saving many lives.  Several
gentlemen of the town also volunteered.  With the new crew, and the
chief officer of the coastguard at the helm, the noble boat was launched
a second time.

The struggle which followed was tremendous, for they had to pull direct
to windward in the teeth of wind and sea.  Sometimes the boat would rise
almost perpendicularly to the waves, and the spectators gazed with bated
breath, fearing that she must turn over; then she would gain a yard or
two, and again be checked.  Thus, inch by inch, they advanced until the
wreck was reached, and the sailors were successfully taken off.  But
this was not accomplished without damage to the rescuers, one of whom
had three ribs broken, while others were more or less injured.

Soon the boat was seen making once more for the beach.  On she came on
the wings of the wind.  As she drew near, the people crowded towards her
as far as the angry sea would permit.

"How many saved?" was the anxious question.

As the boat rushed forward, high on the crest of a tumultuous billow,
the bowman stood up and shouted, "Nine saved!" and in another moment,
amid the ringing cheers of the vast multitude, the lifeboat leaped upon
the sand with the rescued men!

"Nine saved!"  A pleasant piece of news that was to be read next day in
the papers by those who contributed to place that lifeboat on the coast;
for nine souls saved implies many more souls gladdened and filled with
unutterable gratitude to Almighty God.

But "Twenty lost!"  A dismal piece of news this to those at whose door
the murders will lie till the day of doom.  Even John Webster, Esquire,
grew pale when he heard of it, and his hard heart beat harder than usual
against his iron ribs as he sat in the habitation of his soul and gazed
at his deceased wife's father over the chimney-piece, until he almost
thought the canvas image frowned upon him.

There was more, however, behind these twenty lost lives than Mr Webster
dreamed of.  The links in the chains of Providence are curiously
intermingled, and it is impossible to say, when one of them gives way,
which, or how many, will fall along with it, as the next chapter will
show.



CHAPTER FIVE.

THINGS BECOME SHAKY, SO DOES MR WEBSTER, AND THE RESULTS ARE AN ILLNESS
AND A VOYAGE.

The old Indian officer who was drowned, as we have seen, in the wreck of
the _Swordfish_, was in no way connected with Mr John Webster.  In
fact, the latter gentleman read his name in the list of those lost with
feelings of comparative indifference.  He was "very sorry indeed," as he
himself expressed it, that so many human beings had been swept off the
stage of time by that "unfortunate wreck," but it did not add to his
sorrow that an old gentleman, whom he had never seen or heard of before,
was numbered with the drowned.  Had he foreseen the influence that the
death of that old officer was to have on his own fortunes, he might have
looked a little more anxiously at the announcement of it.  But Colonel
Green--that was his name--was nothing to John Webster.  What mattered
his death or life to him?  He was, no doubt, a rich old fellow, who had
lived in the East Indies when things were conducted in a rather loose
style, and when unscrupulous men in power had opportunities of
feathering their nests well; but even although that was true it mattered
not, for all Colonel Green's fortune, if thrown into the pile or taken
from it, would scarcely have made an appreciable difference in the
wealth of the great firm of Webster and Company.  Not that "Company" had
anything to do with it, for there was no Company.  There had been one
once, but he had long ago passed into the realms where gold has no
value.

There was, however, a very large and important firm in Liverpool which
was deeply interested in the life of Colonel Green, for he had long been
a sleeping partner of the firm, and had, during a course of years,
become so deeply indebted to it that the other partners were beginning
to feel uneasy about him.  Messrs. Wentworth and Hodge would have given
a good deal to have got rid of their sleeping partner, but Colonel Green
cared not a straw for Wentworth, nor a fig for Hodge, so he went on in
his own way until the _Swordfish_ was wrecked, when he went the way of
all flesh, and Wentworth and Hodge discovered that, whatever riches he,
Colonel Green, might at one time have possessed, he left nothing behind
him except a number of heavy debts.

This was serious, because the firm had been rather infirm for some years
past, and the consequences of the colonel's death were, that it became
still more shaky, and finally came down.  Now, it is a well understood
fact that men cannot fall alone.  You cannot remove a small prop from a
large old tree without running the risk of causing the old tree to fall
and carry a few of the neighbouring trees, with a host of branches,
creeping plants, and parasites, along with it.  Especially is this the
case in the mercantile world.  The death of Colonel Green was a calamity
only to a few tradesmen, but the fall of Wentworth and Company was a
much more serious matter, because that firm was an important prop to the
much greater firm of Dalgetty and Son, which immediately shook in its
shoes, and also went down, spreading ruin and consternation in the city.
Now, it happened that Dalgetty and Son had extensive dealings with
Webster and Company, and their fall involved the latter so deeply, that,
despite their great wealth, their idolatrous head was compelled to
puzzle his brain considerably in order to see his way out of his
difficulties.

But the more he looked, the less he saw of a favourable nature.  Some of
his evil practices also had of late begun to shed their legitimate fruit
on John Webster, and to teach him something of the meaning of those
words, "Be sure your sins shall find you out."  This complicated matters
considerably.  He consulted his cash-books, bank-books, bill-books,
sales-books, order-books, ledgers, etcetera, etcetera, again and again,
for hours at a time, without arriving at any satisfactory result.  He
went to his diminutive office early in the morning, and sat there late
at night; and did not, by so doing, improve his finances a whit,
although he succeeded in materially injuring his health.  He worried the
life of poor meek Grinder to such an extent that that unfortunate man
went home one night and told his wife he meant to commit suicide, begged
her to go out and purchase a quart of laudanum for that purpose at the
fishmonger's, and was not finally induced to give up, or at least to
delay, his rash purpose, until he had swallowed a tumbler of mulled port
wine and gone to sleep with a bottle of hot water at his feet!  In
short, Mr Webster did all that it was possible for a man to do in order
to retrieve his fortunes--all except pray, and commit his affairs into
the hands of his Maker; _that_ he held to be utterly ridiculous.  To
make use of God's winds, and waves, and natural laws, and the physical
and mental powers which had been given him, for the furtherance of his
designs, was quite natural, he said; but to make use of God's word and
His promises--tut! tut! he said, that was foolishness.

However that may be, the end was, that Webster and Company became very
shaky.  They did not, indeed, go into the _Gazette_, but they got into
very deep water; and the principal, ere long, having overwrought all his
powers, was stricken with a raging fever.

It was then that John Webster found his god to be anything but a
comforter, for it sat upon him like a nightmare; and poor Annie, who,
assisted by Mrs Niven, was his constant and devoted nurse, was
horrified by the terrible forms in which the golden idol assailed him.
That fever became to him the philosopher's stone.  Everything was
transmuted by it into gold.  The counting of guineas was the poor man's
sole occupation from morning till night, and the numbers to which he
attained were sometimes quite bewildering; but he invariably lost the
thread at a certain point, and, with a weary sigh, began over again at
the beginning.  The bed curtains became golden tissue, the quilt golden
filigree, the posts golden masts and yards and bowsprits, which now
receded from him to immeasurable distance, and anon advanced, until he
cried out and put up his hands to shield his face from harm; but,
whether they advanced or retired, they invariably ended by being
wrecked, and he was left in the raging sea surrounded by drowning men,
with whom he grappled and fought like a demon, insomuch that it was
found necessary at one time to have a strong man in an adjoining room,
to be ready to come in when summoned, and hold him down.  Gold, gold,
gold was the subject of his thoughts--the theme of his ravings--at that
time.  He must have read, at some period of his life, and been much
impressed by, Hood's celebrated poem on that subject, for he was
constantly quoting scraps of it.

"Why don't you help me?" he would cry at times, turning fiercely to his
daughter.  "How can I remember it if I am not helped?  I have counted it
all up--one, two, three, on to millions, and billions, and trillions of
gold, gold, gold, hammered and rolled, bought and sold, scattered and
doled--there, I've lost it again!  You are constantly setting me wrong.
All the things about me are gold, and the very food you gave me
yesterday was gold.  Oh! how sick I am of this gold!  Why don't you take
it away from me?"

And then he would fall into some other train of thought, in which his
god, as before, would take the reins and drive him on, ever in the same
direction.

At last the crisis of the disease came and passed, and John Webster
began slowly to recover.  And it was now that he formed a somewhat true
estimate of the marketable value of his daughter Annie, inasmuch as he
came at length to the conclusion that she was priceless, and that he
would not agree to sell her for any sum that could be named!

During this period of convalescence, Annie's patience, gentleness, and
powers of endurance were severely tried, and not found wanting.  The
result was that the conscience of the invalid began to awake and smite
him; then his heart began to melt, and, ere long, became knit to that of
his child, while she sought to relieve his pains and cheer his spirits
she chatted, played, sang, and read to him.  Among other books she read
the Bible.  At first Mr Webster objected to this, on the ground that he
did not care for it; but, seeing that Annie was much pained by his
refusal, he consented to permit her to read a few verses to him daily.
He always listened to them with his eyes shut, but never by look or
comment gave the least sign that they made any impression on him.

During the whole period of Mr Webster's illness and convalescence,
Captain Harry Boyns found it convenient to have much business to
transact in Liverpool, and he was extremely regular in his calls to
inquire after the health of his late employer.  This was very kind of
him, considering the way in which he had been treated!  Sometimes on
these visits he saw Annie, sometimes he saw Mrs Niven--according as the
one or other chanced to be on duty at the time; but, although he was
never permitted to do more than exchange a few sentences with either of
them, the most careless observer could have told, on each occasion,
which he had seen, for he always left the door with a lengthened face
and slow step when he had seen Mrs Niven: but ran down the steps with a
flushed countenance and sparkling eyes when he had met with Annie!

At last Mr Webster was so much restored that his doctor gave him leave
to pay a short visit to his counting-room in the city.

How strangely Mr Webster felt, after his long absence, when he entered
once more the temple of his god, and sat down in his old chair.
Everything looked so familiar, yet so strange!  There were, indeed, the
old objects, but not the old arrangements, for advantage had been taken
of his absence to have the office "thoroughly cleaned!"  There was the
same air of quiet, too, and seclusion; but the smells were not so musty
as they used to be, and there was something terribly unbusinesslike in
the locked desk and the shut books and the utter absence of papers.  The
portrait of his deceased wife's father was there, however, as grim,
silent, and steadfast in its gaze as ever, so Mr Webster smiled, nodded
to it, and rang a hand-bell for his confidential clerk, who entered
instantly, having been stationed at the back of the door for full ten
minutes in expectation of the summons.

"Good morning, Mr Grinder.  I have been ill, you see.  Glad to get
back, however.  How has business been going on in my absence?  The
doctor forbade my making any inquiries while I was ill, so that I have
been rather anxious."

"Yes, sir, I am aware--I--in fact I was anxious to see you several times
on business, but could not gain admittance."

"H'm! not going on so well as might be desired, I suppose," said Mr
Webster.

"Well, not quite; in short, I might even say things are much worse than
they were before you took ill, sir; but if a confidential agent were
sent to Jamaica to--to--that is, if Messrs. Bright and Early were seen
by yourself, sir, and some arrangement made, we might--might--go on for
some time longer, and if trade revives, I think--"

"So bad as that!" exclaimed Mr Webster, musing.  "Well, well, Grinder,
we must do our best to pull through.  Are any of our vessels getting
ready for sea just now?"

"Yes, sir, the _Ocean Queen_ sails for Jamaica about the end of this
month."

"Very well, Grinder, I will go in her.  She is one of our best ships, I
think.  The doctor said something about a short voyage to recruit me, so
that's settled.  Bring me writing materials, and send a statement of
affairs home to me to-night.  I have not yet strength to go into details
here."

Grinder brought the writing materials and retired.  His employer wrote
several letters; among them one to the doctor, apprising him of his
intention to go to Jamaica, and another to the captain of the _Ocean
Queen_, giving him the same information, and directing him to fit up the
two best berths in the cabin for the reception of himself and his
daughter, with a berth for an old female servant.

Three weeks thereafter he went on board with Annie and Mrs Niven, and
the _Ocean Queen_, spreading her sails, was soon far out upon the broad
bosom of the restless Atlantic.



CHAPTER SIX.

DESCRIBES THE PRESENTATION OF A NEW LIFEBOAT TO COVELLY, AND TREATS OF
THE ROYAL NATIONAL LIFEBOAT INSTITUTION.

We must now change the scene, and beg our readers to accompany us once
more to Covelly, where, not long after the events narrated in the last
chapter, an interesting ceremony was performed, which called out the
inhabitants in vast numbers.  This was the presentation of a new
lifeboat to the town, and the rewarding of several men who had recently
been instrumental in saving life in circumstances of peculiar danger.

The weather was propitious.  A bright sun and a calm sea rejoiced the
eyes of the hundreds who had turned out to witness the launch.  The old
boat, which had saved our heroine years before, and had rescued many
more since that day from the angry sea, was worn out, and had to be
replaced by one of the magnificent new boats built on the self-righting
principle, which had but recently been adopted by the Lifeboat
Institution.  A lady of the neighbourhood, whose only daughter had been
saved by the old boat some time before, had presented the purchase-money
of the new one (400 pounds) to the Institution; and, with the
promptitude which characterises all the movements of that Society, a
fine self-righting lifeboat, with all the latest improvements, had been
sent at once to the port.

High on her carriage, in the centre of the town, the new lifeboat
stood--gay and brilliant in her blue and white paint, the crew with
their cork lifebelts on, and a brass band in front, ready to herald her
progress to the shore.  The mayor of the town, with all the principal
men, headed the procession, and a vast concourse of people followed.  At
the shore the boat was named the _Rescue_ by the young lady whose life
had been saved by the old one, and amid the acclamations of the vast
multitude, the noble craft was shot off her carriage into the calm sea,
where she was rowed about for a considerable time, and very critically
examined by her crew; for, although the whole affair was holiday-work to
most of those who looked on, the character of the new boat was a matter
of serious import to those who manned her, and who might be called on to
risk their lives in her every time their shores should be lashed by a
stormy sea.

Our hero, Harry Boyns, held the steering oar.  He had been appointed by
the parent Institution to the position of "Local Secretary of the
Covelly Lifeboat Branch," and, of course, was anxious to know the
qualities of his vessel.

Harry, we may remark in passing, having lost his situation, and finding
that his mother's health was failing, had made up his mind to stay on
shore for a year or two, and seek employment in his native town.  Being
a well-educated man, he obtained this in the office of a mercantile
house, one of the partners of which was related to his mother.

The rowing powers of the new boat were soon tested.  Then Harry steered
to the pier, where a tackle had been prepared for the purpose of
upsetting her.  This was an interesting point in the proceedings,
because few there had seen a self-righting boat, and, as usual, there
was a large sprinkling in the crowd of that class of human beings who
maintain the plausible, but false, doctrine, that "seeing is believing!"

Considerable difficulty was experienced in getting the boat to overturn.
The operation was slowly accomplished; and all through there appeared
to be an unwillingness on the part of the boat to upset!--a symptom
which gave much satisfaction to her future crew, who stood ready on her
gunwale to leap away from her.  At last she was raised completely on one
side, then she balanced for a moment, and fell forward, keel up, with a
tremendous splash, while the men, not a moment too soon, sprang into the
sea, and a wild cheer, mingled with laughter, arose from the spectators.

If the upsetting was slow and difficult, the self-righting was magically
quick and easy.  The boat went right round, and, almost before one could
realise what had occurred, she was again on an even keel.  Of course she
was nearly full of water at the moment of rising; but, in a few seconds,
the discharging holes in her bottom had cleared the water completely
away.  The whole operation of self-righting and self-emptying, from
first to last, occupied only _seventeen seconds_!  If there was laughter
mingled with the shouts when she overturned and threw her crew into the
sea, there was nothing but deep-toned enthusiasm in the prolonged cheer
which hailed her on righting, for then it was fully realised, especially
by seafaring men, what genuine and valuable qualities the boat
possessed, and the cheers became doubly enthusiastic when the crew,
grasping the lifelines which were festooned round her sides, clambered
on board again, and were reseated at the oars in less than two minutes
thereafter.

This done, the boat was hauled up on her carriage, and conveyed to the
house near the beach which had been prepared for her reception, there to
wait, in constant readiness, until the storm should call her forth to
display her peculiar qualities in actual service.

But another, and, if possible, a still more interesting ceremony
remained to be performed.  This was the presentation of the gold and
silver medals of the Institution to several men of the town, who, in a
recent storm, had rendered signal service in the saving of human life.

The zealous and indefatigable secretary of the Institution had himself
come down from London to present these.

The presentation took place in the new town hall, a large building
capable of containing upwards of a thousand people, which, on the
occasion, was filled to overflowing.

The mayor presided, of course, and opened proceedings, as many chairmen
do, by taking the wind out of the sails of the principal speaker!  That
is to say, he touched uninterestingly on each topic that was likely to
engage the attention of the meeting, and stated many facts and figures
in a loose and careless way, which every one knew the secretary would,
as a matter of course, afterwards state much better and more correctly
than himself.  But the mayor was a respected, well-meaning man, and,
although his speech was listened to with manifest impatience, his
sitting down was hailed with rapturous applause.

At this point--the mayor having in his excitement forgotten to call upon
the secretary to speak--a stout man on the platform took advantage of
the oversight and started to his feet, calling from a disgusted auditor
the expression, "Oh, there's that bore Dowler!"  It was indeed that same
Joseph who had, on a memorable occasion long past, signed himself the
"humble" friend of Mr Webster.  Before a word could escape his lips,
however, he was greeted with a storm of yells and obliged to sit down.
But he did so under protest, and remained watchful for another
favourable opportunity of breaking in.  Dowler never knew when he was
"out of order;" he never felt or believed himself to be "out of order!"
In fact, he did not know what "out of order" meant _when applied to
himself_.  He was morally a rhinoceros.  He could not be shamed by
disapprobation; could not be cowed by abuse; never was put out by
noise--although he frequently was by the police; nor put down by
reason--though he sometimes was by force; spoke everywhere, on all
subjects, against the opinions (apparently) of everybody; and lived a
life of perpetual public martyrdom and protest.

Silence having been obtained, the secretary of the Lifeboat Institution
rose, and, after a few complimentary remarks on the enthusiasm in the
good cause shown by the town, and especially by the lady who had
presented the boat, he called Captain Harry Boyns to the platform, and
presented him with the gold medal of the Institution in an able speech,
wherein he related the special act of gallantry for which it was
awarded--telling how that, during a terrible gale, on a dark night in
December, the gallant young captain, happening to walk homewards along
the cliffs, observed a vessel on the rocks, not twenty yards from the
land, with the green seas making clean breaches over her; and how that--
knowing the tide was rising, and that before he could run to the town,
three miles distant, for assistance, the vessel would certainly be
dashed to pieces--he plunged into the surf, at the imminent risk of his
life, swam to the vessel, and returned to the shore with a rope, by
which means a hawser was fixed to the cliffs, and thirty-nine lives were
rescued from the sea!

Well did every one present know the minute details of the heroic deed
referred to, but they were glad to hear the praises of their townsman
re-echoed by one who thoroughly understood the merits of the case, and
whose comments thereon brought out more clearly to the minds of many the
extent of the danger which the gallant captain had run, so that, when
Harry stepped forward to receive the medal, he was greeted with the most
enthusiastic cheers.  Thereafter, the secretary presented silver medals
to two fishermen of the Cove, namely, Old Jacobs and Robert Gaston, both
of whom had displayed unusual daring at the rescue of the young lady who
was the donor of the lifeboat.  He then touched on the value of
lifeboats in general, and gave an interesting account of the origin of
the Society which he represented; but as this subject deserves somewhat
special treatment, we shall turn aside from the thread of our tale for a
little, to regard the Work and the Boats of the Royal National Lifeboat
Institution, assuring our reader that the subject is well worthy the
earnest consideration of all men.

The first lifeboat ever launched upon the stormy sea was planned and
built by a London coach-builder, named Lionel Lukin, who took out a
patent for it in November 1785, and launched it at Bamborough, where it
was the means of saving many lives the first year.  Although Lukin thus
demonstrated the possibility of lives being saved by a boat which could
live under circumstances that would have proved fatal to ordinary boats,
he was doomed to disappointment.  The Prince of Wales (George the
Fourth) did indeed befriend him, but the Lords of Admiralty were deaf,
and the public were indifferent.  Lukin went to his grave unrewarded by
man, but stamped with a nobility which can neither be gifted nor
inherited, but only won--the nobility which attaches to the character of
"national benefactor."

The public were aroused from their apathy in 1789 by the wreck of the
_Adventure_ of Newcastle, the crew of which perished in the presence of
thousands, who could do nothing to save them.  Models of lifeboats were
solicited, and premiums offered for the best.  Among those who
responded, William Wouldhave, a painter, and Henry Greathead, a
boat-builder of South Shields, stood pre-eminent.  The latter afterwards
became a noted builder and improver of lifeboats, and was well and
deservedly rewarded for his labours.  In 1803 Greathead had built
thirty-one boats--eighteen for England, five for Scotland, and eight for
other countries.  This was, so far, well, but it was a wretchedly
inadequate provision for the necessities of the case.  It was not until
1822 that a great champion of the lifeboat cause stood forth in the
person of Sir William Hillary, Baronet.

Sir William, besides being a philanthropist, was a hero!  He not only
devised liberal things and carried them into execution, but he
personally shared in the danger of rescuing life from the sea.  He dwelt
on the shores of the Isle of Man, where he established a Sailors' Home
at Douglas.  He frequently embarked in the boats that went off to rescue
lives from the wrecks that were constantly occurring on the island.
Once he had his ribs broken in this service, and was frequently in
imminent danger of being drowned.  During his career he personally
assisted in the saving of 305 human lives!  He was the means of stirring
up public men, and the nation generally, to a higher sense of their duty
towards those who, professionally and otherwise, risk their lives upon
the sea; and eventually, in conjunction with two Members of Parliament--
Mr Thomas Wilson and Mr George Herbert--was the founder of "THE ROYAL
NATIONAL INSTITUTION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF LIFE FROM SHIPWRECK."  This
Institution--now named THE ROYAL NATIONAL LIFEBOAT INSTITUTION--was
founded on the 24th of March 1824, and has gone on progressively, doing
its noble work of creating and maintaining a lifeboat fleet, rescuing
the shipwrecked, and rewarding the rescuers, from that day to this.
When life does not require to be saved, and when opportunity offers, the
Society allows its boats to save _property_, of which we shall have
something more to say presently.

At the founding of the Institution in 1824, the Archbishop of Canterbury
of the day filled the chair; the great Wilberforce, Lord John Russell,
and other magnates, were present; the Dukes of Kent, Sussex, and other
members of the Royal family, became vice-patrons; the Duke of
Northumberland its vice-president, and George the Fourth its patron.  In
1850 the much-lamented Prince Albert--whose life was a continual going
about doing good--became its vice-patron, and Her Majesty the Queen
became, and still continues, a warm supporter and an annual contributor.

Now, this is a splendid array of names and titles; but it ought ever to
be borne in remembrance that the Institution is dependent for its
continued existence on the public--on you and me, good reader--for it is
supported almost entirely by voluntary contributions.  That it will
always find warm hearts to pray for it, and open hands to give, as long
as its boats continue, year by year, to pluck men, women, and children
from the jaws of death, and give them back to gladdened hearts on shore,
is made very apparent from the records published quarterly in _The
Lifeboat Journal_ of the Society, a work full of interesting
information.  Therein we find that the most exalted contributor is Queen
Victoria--the lowliest, a sailor's orphan child!

Here are a few of the gifts to the Institution selected very much at
random:--One gentleman leaves it a legacy of 10,000 pounds.  Some time
ago a sum of 5000 pounds was sent anonymously by "a friend."  There
comes 100 pounds as a second donation from a sailor's daughter, and 50
pounds from a British admiral.  Five shillings are sent as "the savings
of a child"; 1 shilling, 6 pence from another little child, in
postage-stamps; 15 pounds from "three fellow-servants"; 10 pounds from
"a shipwrecked pilot," and 10 shillings 6 pence from "an old salt."
Indeed, we can speak from personal experience on this subject, because,
among others, we received a letter, one day, in a cramped and peculiar
hand, which we perused with deep interest, for it had been written by a
_blind_ youth, whose eyes, nevertheless, had been thoroughly opened to
see the great importance of the lifeboat cause, for he had collected 100
pounds for the Institution!  On another occasion, at the close of a
lecture on the subject, an old woman, who appeared to be among the
poorest of the classes who inhabit the old town of Edinburgh, came to us
and said, "Hae, there's tippence for the lifeboat!"

It cannot be doubted that these sums, and many, many others that are
presented annually, are the result of moral influences which elevate the
soul, and which are indirectly caused by the lifeboat service.  We
therefore hold that the Institution ought to be regarded as a prolific
cause of moral good to the nation.  And, while we are on this subject,
it may be observed that our lifeboat influence for good on other nations
is very considerable.  In proof of this we cite the following facts:--
Finland sends 50 pounds to our Institution to testify its appreciation
of the good done by us to its sailors and shipping.  The late President
Lincoln of the United States, while involved in all the anxieties of the
great civil war, found time to send 100 pounds to our Lifeboat
Institution, in acknowledgement of the services rendered to American
ships in distress.  Russia and Holland send naval men to inspect our
lifeboat management.  France, in generous emulation of ourselves, starts
a Lifeboat Institution of its own; and last, but not least, it has been
said, that "foreigners know when they are wrecked on the shores of
Britain by the persevering and noble efforts that are made to save their
lives!"

But there are some minds which do not attach much value to moral
influence, and to which material benefit is an all-powerful argument.
Well, then, to these we would address ourselves, but, in passing, would
remark that moral influence goes far to secure for us material
advantage.  It is just because so many hundreds of human living souls
are annually preserved to us that men turn with glowing gratitude to the
rescuers and to the Institution which organises and utilises the latent
philanthropy and pluck of our coast heroes.  On an average, 800 lives
are saved _every year_; while, despite our utmost efforts, 600 are lost.
Those who know anything about our navy, and our want of British seamen
to man our ships, cannot fail to see that the saving of so many valuable
lives is a positive material benefit to the nation.  But to descend to
the lowest point, we maintain that the value of the lifeboats to the
nation, in the mere matter of saving property, is almost incredible.  In
regard to these things, it is possible to speak definitely.

For instance, during stormy weather, it frequently happens that vessels
show signals of distress, either because they are so badly strained as
to be in a sinking condition, or so damaged that they are unmanageable,
or the crews have become so exhausted as to be no longer capable of
working for their own preservation.  In such cases, the lifeboat puts
off with the intention, _in the first instance_, of saving _life_.  It
reaches the vessel in distress; the boat's crew spring on board and
find, perhaps, that there is some hope of saving the ship.  Knowing the
locality well, they steer her clear of rocks and shoals.  Being fresh
and vigorous, they work the pumps with a will, manage to keep her
afloat, and finally steer her into port, thus saving ship and cargo as
well as crew.

Now, let it be observed that what we have here supposed is not
imaginary--it is not even of rare occurrence.  It happens every year.
Last year thirty-eight ships were thus saved by lifeboats.  The year
before, twenty-eight were saved.  The year before that, seventeen.
Before that, twenty-one.  As surely and regularly as the year comes
round, so surely and regularly are ships and property thus saved _to the
nation_.

It cannot be too well understood that a wrecked ship is not only an
individual, but a national loss.  Insurance protects the individual, but
insurance cannot, in the nature of things, protect the nation.  If you
drop a thousand sovereigns in the street, that is a loss to _you_, but
not to the _nation_.  Some lucky individual will find the money and
circulate it.  But if you drop it in the sea, it is lost, not only to
you, but to the nation to which you belong--ay, lost to the world itself
for ever!  If a lifeboat, therefore, saves a ship worth 1000 pounds from
destruction, it literally presents that sum as a free gift to the
nation.  We say a free gift, because the lifeboats are supported for the
purpose of saving life, not property.

A few remarks on the value of loaded ships will throw additional light
on this subject, and make more apparent the value of the Lifeboat
Institution.  Take, first, the case of a ship which was actually saved
by a lifeboat.  She was a large Spanish ship, which grounded on a bank
off the south coast of Ireland.  The captain and crew forsook her, and
escaped to shore in their boats, but one man was inadvertently left on
board.  Soon after, the wind moderated and shifted, the ship slipped off
the bank into deep water, and drifted to the northward.  The crew of the
_Cahore_ lifeboat were on the look-out, observed the vessel passing,
launched their boat, and after a long pull against wind and sea, boarded
the vessel, and rescued the Spanish sailor.  But they did more.  Finding
seven feet of water in the hold, they rigged the pumps, trimmed the
sails, carried the ship into port, and handed her over to an agent for
the owners.  This vessel and cargo were valued at 20,000 pounds, and we
think we are justified in saying that England, through the
instrumentality of her Lifeboat Institution, presented that handsome sum
to Spain upon that occasion!

But many ships are much more costly than that was.  Some time ago a ship
named the _Golden Age_ was lost upon our shores; it was valued at
200,000 pounds.  If that single ship had been one of the thirty-eight
saved last year (and it might have been), the sum thus saved to the
nation would have been more than sufficient to buy up all the lifeboats
in the kingdom twice over!  But that ship was not amongst the saved.  It
was lost.  So was the _Ontario_ of Liverpool, which was wrecked in
October 1864, and valued at 100,000 pounds.  Also the _Assaye_, wrecked
on the Irish coast, and valued at 200,000 pounds.  Here are 500,000
pounds lost for ever by the wreck of these three ships alone in one
year!  Do you know, reader, what such sums represent?  Are you aware
that the value of the _Ontario_ alone is equal to the income for one
year of the London Missionary Society, wherewith it supports its
institutions at home and abroad, and spreads the blessed knowledge of
gospel truth over a vast portion of the globe?

But we have only spoken of three ships--no doubt three of the largest
size--yet only three of the lost.  Couple the above figures with the
fact that the number of ships lost, or seriously damaged, _every year_,
on the shores of the United Kingdom is above _two thousand_, and you
will have some idea of one of the reasons why taxation is so heavy; and
if you couple them with the other fact, that, from twenty to thirty
ships, great and small, are saved by lifeboats every year, you will
perceive that, whatever amount may be given to the Lifeboat Institution,
it gives back to the nation _far more_ than it receives in _material
wealth_, not to mention human lives at all.

Its receipts in 1868 from all sources were 31,668 pounds, and its
expenditure 31,585 pounds.  The lives saved by its own boats last year
were 603, in addition to which other 259 were saved by shore boats, for
which the Institution rewarded the crews with thirteen medals, and money
to the extent of above 6573 pounds, for all services.

The Lifeboat Institution has a little sister, whom it would be unjust,
as well as ungracious, not to introduce in passing, namely, the
SHIPWRECKED MARINERS' SOCIETY.  They do their blessed work hand in hand.
Their relative position may be simply stated thus:--The Lifeboat
Institution saves life.  Having dragged the shipwrecked sailor from the
sea, its duty is done.  It hands him over to the agent of the
Shipwrecked Mariners' Society, who takes him by the hand, sees him
housed, warmed, clad and fed, and sends him home rejoicing, free of
expense, and with a little cash in his pocket.  Formerly, shipwrecked
sailors had to beg their way to their homes.  At first they were
sympathised with and well treated.  Thereupon uprose a host of
counterfeits.  The land was overrun by shipwrecked-mariner-beggars, and
as people of the interior knew not which was which, poor shipwrecked
Jack often suffered because of these vile impostors.  But now there is
not a port in the kingdom without its agent of the Society.  Jack has,
therefore, no need to beg his way.  "The world" knows this; the deceiver
knows it too, therefore his occupation is gone!  Apart from its
benignant work, the mere fact that the "little sister" has swept such
vagrants off the land entitles her to a strong claim on our gratitude.
She, also, is supported by voluntary contributions.

Turning now to another branch of our subject, let us regard for a little
the boats of the Lifeboat Institution.

"What is a lifeboat?  Wherein does it differ from other boats?" are
questions sometimes put.  Let us attempt a brief reply.

A lifeboat--that is to say, the present lifeboat--differs from all other
boats in four particulars:--1.  It is _almost_ indestructible. 2.  It is
insubmergible. 3.  It is self-righting. 4.  It is self-emptying.  In
other words, it can hardly be destroyed; it cannot be sunk; it rights
itself if upset; it empties itself if filled.  Let us illustrate these
points in succession.  Here is evidence on the first point.

On a terrible night in 1857 a Portuguese brig struck on the Goodwin
Sands.  The noble, and now famous, Ramsgate lifeboat was at once towed
out when the signal-rocket from the lightship was seen, indicating "a
wreck on the sands."  A terrific battle with the winds and waves ensued.
At length the boat was cast off to windward of the sands, and bore down
on the brig through the shoal water, which tossed her like a cork on its
raging surface.  They reached the brig and lay by her for some time in
the hope of getting her off, but failed.  The storm increased, the
vessel began to break up, so her crew were taken into the boat, which--
having previously cast anchor to windward of the wreck, and eased off
the cable until it got under her lee--now tried to pull back to its
anchor.  Every effort was fruitless, owing to the shifting nature of the
sands and the fury of the storm.  At last nothing was left for it but to
hoist the sail, cut the cable, and make a desperate effort to beat off
the sands.  In this also they failed; were caught on the crest of a
breaking roller, and borne away to leeward.  Water and wind in wildest
commotion were comparatively small matters to the lifeboat, but want of
water was a serious matter.  The tide happened to be out.  The sands
were only partially covered, and over them the breakers swept in a
chaotic seething turmoil that is inconceivable by those who have not
witnessed it.  Every one has seen the ripples on the seashore when the
tide is out.  On the Goodwins these ripples are great banks, to be
measured by yards instead of inches.  From one to another of these
sand-banks this boat was cast.  Each breaker caught her up, hurled her
onward a few yards, and let her down with a crash that well-nigh tore
every man out of her, leaving her there a few moments, to be caught up
again and made sport with by the next billow.  The Portuguese sailors,
eighteen in number, clung to the thwarts in silent despair, but the crew
of the boat did not lose heart.  They knew her splendid qualities, and
hoped that, if they should only escape being dashed against the portions
of wreck which strewed the sands, all might yet be well.  Thus,
literally fathom by fathom, with a succession of shocks that would have
knocked any ordinary boat to pieces, was this magnificent lifeboat
driven, during two hours in the dead of night, over two miles of the
Goodwin Sands!  At last she drove into deep water on the other side; the
sails were set, and soon after, through God's mercy, the rescued men
were landed safely in Ramsgate Harbour.  So, we repeat, the lifeboat is
almost indestructible.

That she is insubmergible has been proved by what has already been
written, and our space forbids giving further illustration, but a word
about the cause of this quality is necessary.  Her floating power is due
to _air-chambers_ fitted round the sides under the seats and in the bow
and stern; also to empty space and light wood or cork ballast under her
floor.  If thrust forcibly deep under water with as many persons in her
as could be stowed away, she would, on being released, rise again to the
surface like a cork.

The self-righting principle is one of the most important qualities of
the lifeboat.  However good it may be in other respects, a boat without
this quality is a lifeboat only so long as it maintains its proper
position on the water.  If upset it is no better than any other boat.
It is true that, great stability being one of the lifeboat's qualities,
such boats are not easily overturned.  Nevertheless they sometimes are
so, and the results have been on several occasions disastrous.  Witness
the case of the Liverpool boat, which in January 1865 upset, and the
crew of seven men were drowned.  Also the Point of Ayr lifeboat, which
upset when under sail at a distance from the land, and her crew,
thirteen in number, were drowned.  Two or three of the poor fellows were
seen clinging to the keel for twenty minutes, but no assistance could be
rendered.  Now, both of these were considered good lifeboats, but they
were _not self-righting_.  Numerous cases might be cited to prove the
inferiority of the non-self-righting boats, but one more will suffice.
In February 1858 the Southwold boat--a large sailing boat, esteemed one
of the finest in the kingdom, but _not_ self-righting--went out for
exercise, and was running before a heavy surf with all sail set, when
she suddenly ran on the top of a sea, broached-to and upset.  The crew
in this case being near shore, and having on cork lifebelts, were
rescued, but three gentlemen who had gone off in her without lifebelts
were drowned.  This case, and the last, occurred in broad daylight.

In contrast to these we give an instance of the action of the
self-righting lifeboat when overturned.  It occurred on a dark stormy
night in October 1858.  On that night a wreck took place off the coast
near Dungeness, three miles from shore.  The small lifeboat belonging to
that place put off to the rescue.  Eight stout men of the coastguard
composed her crew.  She belonged to the National Lifeboat Institution--
all the boats of which are now built on the self-righting principle.
The wreck was reached soon after midnight, and found to have been
deserted by her crew; the boat therefore returned to the shore.  While
crossing a deep channel between two shoals she was caught up and struck
by three heavy seas in succession.  The coxswain lost command of the
rudder, and she was carried away before a sea, broached to and upset,
throwing the men out of her.  Immediately she righted herself, cleared
herself of water, and the anchor having fallen out she was brought up by
it.  The crew, meanwhile, having on lifebelts, regained the boat, got
into her by means of the lifelines hung round her sides, cut the cable,
and returned to the shore in safety!

The means by which the self-righting is accomplished are--two large
air-cases, one in the bow, the other in the stern, and a heavy iron
keel.  These air-cases are rounded on the top and raised so high that a
boat, bottom up, resting on them, would be raised almost quite out of
the water.  Manifestly, to rest on these pivots is an impossibility; the
overturned boat _must_ fall on its side, in which position the heavy
iron keel comes into play and drags the bottom down, thus placing the
boat violently and quickly in her proper position.  The simple plan here
described was invented by the Reverend James Bremner, of Orkney, and
exhibited at Leith, near Edinburgh, in the year 1800.  Mr Bremner's
aircases were empty casks in the bow and stern, and his ballast was
three hundredweight of iron attached to the keel.

This plan, however, was not made practically useful until upwards of
fifty years later, when twenty out of twenty-four men were lost by the
upsetting of the _non-self-righting_ lifeboat of South Shields.  After
the occurrence of that melancholy event, the late Duke of
Northumberland--who for many years was one of the warmest supporters and
patrons of the Lifeboat Institution--offered a prize of 100 pounds for
the best self-righting lifeboat.  It was gained by Mr Beeching, whose
boat was afterwards considerably altered and improved by Mr Peak.

The self-emptying principle is of almost equal importance with the
self-righting, for, in every case of putting off to a wreck, a lifeboat
is necessarily filled again and again with water--sometimes overwhelmed
by tons of it; and a boat full of water, however safe it may be, is
necessarily useless.  Six large holes in the bottom of the boat effect
the discharge of water.  There is an air-tight floor to the lifeboat,
which is so placed that when the boat is fully manned and loaded with
passengers it is _a very little above the level of the sea_.  On this
fact the acting of the principle depends.  Between this floor and the
bottom of the boat, a space of upwards of a foot in depth, there is some
light ballast of cork or wood, and some parts of the space are left
empty.  The six holes above mentioned are tubes of six inches diameter,
which extend from the floor through the bottom of the boat.  Now, it is
one of nature's laws that water _must_ find its level.  For instance,
take any boat and bore large holes in its bottom, and suppose it to be
held up in its _ordinary_ floating position, so that it cannot sink,
then fill it suddenly quite full of water, it will be found that the
water _inside_ will run out until it is on a level with the water
_outside_.  Water poured into a lifeboat will of course act in the same
way, but when that which has been poured into it reaches the level of
the water outside, _it has also reached the floor_: in other words,
there is no more water left to run out.

Such are the principal qualities of the splendid lifeboat now used on
our coasts, and of which it may be said that it has almost reached the
state of absolute perfection.

The Lifeboat Institution, which has been the means in God's hands of
saving so many thousands of human lives, is now in a high state of
efficiency and of well-deserved prosperity; both of which conditions are
due very largely to the untiring exertions and zeal of its present
secretary, Richard Lewis, Esquire, of the Inner Temple.  Success is not
dependent on merit alone.  Good though the lifeboat cause unquestionably
is, we doubt whether the Institution would have attained its present
high position so soon, had it not been guided thereto by the judicious
management of its committee--the members of which bestow laborious and
gratuitous service on its great and national work--aided by the able and
learned secretary and an experienced inspector of lifeboats (Captain
J.R. Ward, R.N.) both whose judgement and discretion have often been the
themes of deserved praise by the public.

That the claims of the Institution are very strong must be admitted by
all who reflect that during upwards of forty years it has been engaged
in the grand work of saving human lives.  Up to the present date, it has
plucked 18,225 human beings from the waves, besides an incalculable
amount of valuable property.  It is a truly national blessing, and as
such deserves the support of every man and woman in the kingdom.  (See
footnote.)

But, to return from this prolonged yet by no means unnecessary
digression,--let us remind the reader that we left him at the meeting in
the town-hall of Covelly, of which, however, we will only say further,
that it was very enthusiastic and most successful.  That the mayor,
having been stirred in spirit by the secretary's speech, redeemed
himself by giving vent to a truly eloquent oration, and laying on the
table a handsome contribution towards the funds of the Society.  That
many of the people present gladly followed his lead, and that the only
interruption to the general harmony was the repeated attempts made by
Mr Joseph Dowler--always out of order--to inflict himself upon the
meeting; an infliction which the meeting persistently declined to
permit!

Thereafter the new lifeboat was conveyed to its house on the shore,
where, however, it had not rested many weeks before it was called into
vigorous action.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

For the sake of those who sympathise with us, and desire to give
substantial evidence of their goodwill, we would suggest that
contributions may be sent to the secretary, Richard Lewis, Esquire, 14
John Street, Adelphi, London.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE STORM AND THE WRECK.

Listen, O ye who lie comfortably asleep, secure in your homes, oblivious
of danger, when the tempest is roaring overhead!  Come, let us together
wing our flight to the seashore, and cast a searching glance far and
near over the strand.

On a certain Friday morning in the year 18 hundred and something, a
terrific gale broke over the east coast, and everywhere the lifeboat men
went out to watch the raging sea, knowing full well that ere long there
would be rough but glorious work for them to do.  A tremendous sea ran
high on the bar at Tynemouth, and rolled with tremendous force on the
Black Middens--rocks that are black indeed, in their history as well as
their aspect.  A barque was seen making for the Tyne, towed by a
steam-tug.  A sudden squall struck them; the tug was forced to let the
vessel go, and she went on the rocks.  A few minutes had barely passed
when another vessel was descried, a brig, which made for the harbour,
missed it, and was driven on the same fatal rocks a few yards south of
the barque.  The alarm-gun was fired, and the members of the Tynemouth
_Volunteer Life Brigade_ were quickly at the scene of disaster.  The
rocket apparatus was fired, and a line passed over one of the vessels;
but other anxious eyes had been on the look-out that night, and soon the
salvage boat _William_ was launched at North Shields, and the South
Shields men launched the Tynemouth lifeboat.  The _Constant_ lifeboat
also put off to the rescue.  It was getting dark by that time, so that
those on shore could not see the boats after they had engaged in strife
with the raging sea.  Meanwhile part of the crew of the barque were
saved by the rocket apparatus, but those of the brig did not know how to
use it, and they would certainly have perished had not the _William_ got
alongside and rescued them all.  While this was going on a third vessel
was driven ashore on the Battery Rock.  The South Shields lifeboat made
towards her, succeeded in getting alongside, and rescued the crew.

A mile west of Folkestone Harbour a brigantine, laden with rum and
sugar, went ashore, broadside-on, near Sandgate Castle.  The ever-ready
coastguardsmen turned out.  A Sandgate fisherman first passed a small
grapnel on board, then the coastguard sent out a small line with a
lifebuoy attached and one by one the crew were all saved--the men of the
coastguard with ropes round their waists, standing in the surf as deep
as they dared to venture, catching the men who dropped, and holding
their heads above water until they were safe.  But the gallant
coastguardsmen had other work cut out for them that night.  Besides
saving life, it was their duty to protect property.  The cargo was a
tempting one to many roughs who had assembled.  When the tide receded,
these attempted to get on board the wreck and regale themselves.  The
cutlasses of the coastguard, however, compelled them to respect the
rights of private property, and taught them the majesty of the law!

Elsewhere along the coast many vessels were wrecked, and many lives were
lost that night, while many more were saved by the gallant lifeboat
crews, the details of which, if written, would thrill many a sympathetic
breast from John o' Groat's to the Land's End; but passing by these we
turn to one particular vessel which staggered in the gale of that night,
but which, fortunately for those on board, was still at some distance
from the dangerous and dreaded shore.

It was the _Ocean Queen_.  Mr Webster was seated in her cabin, his face
very pale, and his hands grasping the arms of the locker tightly to
prevent his being hurled to leeward.  Annie sat beside him with her arms
round his waist.  She was alarmed and looked anxious, but evidently
possessed more courage than her father.  There was some reason for this,
however, for she did not know that Mr Webster's fortunes had got into
such a desperate case, that for the retrieving of them he depended very
much on the successful voyage of the _Ocean Queen_.

"Don't be so cast down, father," said Annie; "I heard the captain say
that we shall be in sight of land to-morrow."

"Heaven forbid," said Mr Webster.  "Better to be in mid-ocean than near
land on such a night."

Annie was about to reply when the door opened, and the captain looked
in.  He wore a sou'-wester, and was clad in oilcloth garments from head
to foot, which shone like black satin with the dripping spray.

"We're getting on famously," he said in a hearty tone, "the wind has
shifted round to the sou'-west, and if it holds--we shall--"

"Sprung a leak, sir!" cried the first mate in a deep excited voice as he
looked down the companion.

"What!" exclaimed the captain, rushing upon deck.

"Plank must have started, sir, there's three foot water in--"

His voice was drowned by distance and the roaring of the gale, but Mr
Webster and Annie had heard enough to fill them with alarm.

The _Ocean Queen_ had indeed sprung a leak, and so bad was it that when
all the pumps available were set a-going, they failed to reduce the
depth of water in the hold.  Still, by constantly changing hands and
making strenuous exertions, they prevented it from increasing rapidly.
All that night and next day they wrought with unflagging energy at the
pumps.  No man on board spared himself.  The captain took his spell with
the rest.  Even Mr Webster threw off his coat and went to work as if he
had been born and bred a coal-heaver.  The work, however, was very
exhausting, and when land appeared no one seemed to have any heart to
welcome it except Annie and her old nurse Mrs Niven.

Towards evening of the next day the captain came up to Mr Webster, who
was seated on the cabin skylight with his head resting wearily on his
hands.

"We cannot make the port of Liverpool, I find," he said.  "The pilot
says that if we wish to save the ship we must run for the nearest
harbour on the coast, which happens, unfortunately, to be the very small
one of Covelly."

"Then by all means run for it," said Mr Webster.  "Strange," he
muttered to himself, "that fate should lead me there."

The head of the _Ocean Queen_ was at once turned towards the shore, and
as they neared it Mr Webster stood talking to Annie about the time
"long, long ago," when she had been rescued by a lifeboat there, and
remarking on the curious coincidence that she should happen to come to
the same place in distress a second time.

The gale, although somewhat more moderate, was still blowing strong, and
an "ugly sea" was rolling on the bank where the _Swordfish_ had gone
ashore many years before.  This, however, mattered little, because the
direction of the wind was such that they could steer well clear of it.
But the channel leading to the harbour was very sinuous, and, as the
pilot observed, required careful steering.  In one part this channel was
so crooked that it became necessary to go on the other tack a short
distance.  In ordinary circumstances the captain would have thought
nothing of this, but he felt anxious just then, because some of the
stores and cordage furnished by mistake to him had been intended for the
_Ruby_.  Now the _Ruby_ was one of the vessels of Webster and Company
which had been sent away with the hope, if not the intention, that it
should be wrecked!  The mistake had been discovered only after the
_Ocean Queen_ had set sail.

"Ready about," cried the pilot.

The men leaped to their respective places.

"Take another pull at that fores'l sheet," said the pilot.

This was done.  At sea this would not have been necessary, because the
ship was lively and answered her helm well, but in the narrow channel
things had to be done more vigorously.  The extra pull was given.  The
tackle of the foresail sheet had been meant for the _Ruby_.  It snapped
asunder, and the ship missed stays and fell away.

Instantly all was desperate confusion.  A hurried attempt was made to
wear ship, then two anchors were let go, but almost before the startled
owner was aware of what had occurred, the good ship received a shock
which made her quiver from stem to stern.  She lifted with the next
wave, and in another minute was fast on the shoal which had proved fatal
to the _Swordfish_, with the waves dashing wildly over her.

Long before this occurred, our hero, Harry Boyns, had been watching the
vessel with considerable anxiety.  He little knew who was on board of
her, else would his anxiety have been infinitely increased.  But Harry
was one of those men who do not require the spur of self-interest to
keep them alive to duty.  He had observed that the ship was in distress,
and, as the honorary secretary of the Lifeboat Branch, he summoned
together the crew of his boat.  Thus all was in readiness for action
when the disaster occurred to the _Ocean Queen_.

Instantly the lifeboat was run down to the beach, where hundreds of
willing hands were ready to launch her, for the people had poured out of
the town on the first rumour of what was going on.  The crew leaped into
the boat and seized the oars.  The launching-ropes were manned.  A loud
"Huzzah" was given, and the lifeboat shot forth on her voyage of mercy,
cutting right through the first tremendous billow that met her.

At that time Old Jacob, the coxswain of the boat, happened to be unwell;
Harry himself therefore took the steering-oar, and Bob Gaston was in the
bow.  Mr Joseph Dowler chanced to be among the spectators on shore.
That fussy and conceited individual, conceiving it to be a fitting
occasion for the exercise of his tremendous powers, stood upon an
elevated rock and began a wildly enthusiastic speech to which nobody
listened, and in which he urged the lifeboatmen to do their duty in
quite a Nelsonian spirit.  Fortunately a sudden gust of wind blew him
off his perch.  He fell on his head so that his hat was knocked over his
eyes, and before he was thoroughly extricated from it, the lifeboat was
far from shore, and the men were doing their duty nobly, even although
Mr Dowler's appeal had failed to reach their ears!

It was a tough pull, for wind, waves, and tide combined to beat them
back, but they combined in vain.  Inch by inch they advanced, slowly and
laboriously, although it was so bitterly cold that the men had little
feeling in the benumbed hands with which they pulled so gallantly.

At last they reached the vessel, pulled well to windward, cast anchor,
and eased off the cable, until they passed her stern and got under her
lee.  Just then Harry looked up and felt as if he had received a shock
from electric fire, for he beheld the pale face of Annie Webster gazing
at him with glowing eyes!  No longer did he feel the chilling blast.
The blood rushed wildly through his veins as he shouted--

"Look alive, Bob,--heave!"

Bob Gaston stood up in the bow, and, with a beautiful swing, cast a line
on board, by means of which the boat was hauled alongside.  Just at that
moment the mainyard came down with a thundering crash upon the ship's
deck, fortunately injuring no one.  At the same time a tremendous billow
broke over the stern of the _Ocean Queen_, and falling into the lifeboat
in a cataract completely sunk her.  She rose like a cork, keel
uppermost, and would have righted at once, but a bight of the mainsail,
with some of the wreck, held her down.  Her crew, one by one, succeeded
in clambering upon her, and Harry shouted to the men in the ship to hand
him an axe.  One was thrown to him which he caught, and began therewith
to cut the wreck of cordage.

"Slit the sail with your knife, Bob Gaston," he cried, but Bob did not
reply.  All the other men were there; Bob alone was missing.  The
difficulty of acting in such turmoil is not to be easily estimated.
Twenty minutes elapsed before the boat was cleared.  When this was
accomplished she righted at once, and Bob Gaston was found sticking to
the bottom of her, inside, having found sufficient air and space there
to keep him alive!

Another moment and Harry Boyns was on the deck of the wreck.

Perhaps the most earnest "Thank God" that ever passed his lips burst
from them when he seized Annie's hand and entreated her to go with him
at once into the boat.

"Stay! hold!" cried Mr Webster, seizing Harry wildly by the sleeve and
whispering to him in quick earnest tones, "Can nothing be done to save
the ship?  _All is lost_ if she goes!"

"Hold on a minute, lads," cried Harry to the men in the boat; "are the
pumps working free,--is your ground tackle good?" he added, turning
hastily to the captain.

"Ay, but the men are used up--utterly exhausted."

"Jump aboard, lads," cried Harry to his men.

The men obeyed, leaving four of their number in the boat to keep her off
the ship's side.  Under Harry's orders some of them manned the pumps,
while others went to the windlass.

"Come, boys, make one more effort to save the ship," cried Harry to the
fatigued crew; "the tide will rise for another hour, we'll save her yet
if you have pluck to try."

Thus appealed to they all set to work, and hove with such goodwill that
the ship was soon hauled off the sands--an event which was much
accelerated by the gradual abating of the gale and rising of the tide.
When it was thought safe to do this, the sails were trimmed, the cables
cut, and, finally, the _Ocean Queen_ was carried triumphantly into
port--saved by the Covelly Lifeboat.

Need we tell you, good reader, that Mr Webster and his daughter, and
Mrs Niven, spent that night under the roof of hospitable Mrs Boyns?
who--partly because of the melancholy that ever rested like a soft cloud
on her mild countenance, and partly because the cap happened to suit her
cast of features--looked a very charming widow indeed.  Is it necessary
to state that Mr Webster changed his sentiments in regard to young
Captain Boyns, and that, from regarding him first with dislike and then
with indifference, he came to look upon him as one of the best fellows
that ever lived, and was rather pleased than otherwise when he saw him
go out, on the first morning after the rescue above recorded, to walk
with his daughter among the romantic cliffs of Covelly!

Surely not!  It would be an insult to your understanding to suppose that
you required such information.

It may be, however, necessary to let you know that, not many weeks after
these events, widow Boyns received a letter telling her that Captain
Daniel Boyns was still alive and well, and that she might expect to see
him within a very short period of time!

On reading thus far, poor Mrs Boyns fell flat on the sofa in a dead
faint, and, being alone at the time, remained in that condition till she
recovered, when she eagerly resumed the letter, which went on to say
that, after the bottle containing the message from the sea had been cast
overboard, the pirates had put himself and his remaining companions--six
in number--into a small boat, and left them to perish on the open sea,
instead of making them walk the plank, as they had at first threatened.
That, providentially, a whale-ship had picked them up two days
afterwards, and carried them off on a three years' cruise to the South
Seas, where she was wrecked on an uninhabited island.  That there they
had dwelt from that time to the present date without seeing a single
sail--the island being far out of the track of merchant vessels.  That
at last a ship had been blown out of its course near the island, had
taken them on board, and, finally, that here he was, and she might even
expect to see him _in a few hours_!

This epistle was written in a curiously shaky hand, and was much
blotted, yet, strange to say, it did not seem to have travelled far, it
being quite clean and fresh!

The fact was that Captain Boyns was a considerate man.  He had gone into
a public-house, not ten yards distant from his own dwelling, to pen this
letter, fearing that the shock would be too much for his wife if not
broken gradually to her.  But his impatience was great.  He delivered
the letter at his own door, and stood behind it just long enough, as he
thought, to give her plenty of time to read it, and then burst in upon
her just as she was recovering somewhat of her wonted self-possession.

Over the scene that followed we drop the curtain, and return to Mr
Webster, who is once again seated in the old chair in the old office,
gazing contemplatively at the portrait of his deceased wife's father.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

CONCLUSION.

There are times in the lives, probably, of all men, when the conscience
awakes and induces a spirit of self-accusation and repentance.  Such a
time had arrived in the experience of Mr John Webster.  He had obtained
a glimpse of himself in his true colours, and the sight had filled him
with dismay.  He thought, as he sat in the old chair in the old office,
of the wasted life that was behind him, and the little of life that lay,
perchance, before.  His right hand, from long habit, fumbled with the
coin in his trousers-pocket.  Taking out a sovereign he laid it on the
desk, and gazed at it for some time in silence.

"For your sake," he murmured, "I have all but sold myself, body and
soul.  For the love of you I have undermined my health, neglected my
child, ruined the fortunes of hundreds of men and women, and committed
m--"

He could not bring himself to say the word, but he could not help
thinking it, and the thought filled him with horror.  The memory of that
dread hour when he expected every instant to be whelmed in the raging
sea rushed upon him vividly.  He passed from that to the period of his
sickness, when he used to fancy he was struggling fiercely in the
seething brine with drowning men--men whom he had brought to that pass,
and who strove revengefully to drag him down along with them.  He
clasped his hands over his eyes as if he thought to shut out those
dreadful memories, and groaned in spirit.  Despair would have seized
upon the gold-lover at that time, had not his guardian angel risen
before his agonised mind.  Annie's soft tones recurred to him.  He
thought of the words she had spoken to him, the passages from God's Word
that she had read, and, for the first time in his long life, the sordid
man of business exclaimed, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"

No other word escaped him, but when, after remaining motionless for a
long time, he removed his hands from his face, the subdued expression
that rested there might have led an observer to believe that the prayer
had been answered.

A knock at the office-door caused him to start and endeavour to resume
his ordinary professional expression and composure as he said, "Come
in."

Harry Boyns, however, had not waited for the answer.  He was already in
the room, hat in hand.

"Now, sir," he said, eagerly, "are you ready to start?  The train leaves
in half an hour, and we must not risk losing it _to-day_."

"Losing it!" said Mr Webster, as he rose and slowly put on his
greatcoat, assisted by Harry, "why, it just takes me five minutes to
walk to the station.  How do you propose to spend the remaining
twenty-five?--But I say, Harry," he added with a peculiar smile, "how
uncommonly spruce you are to-day!"

"Not an unusual condition for a man to be in on his wedding-day,"
retorted Harry; "and I am sure that I can return you the compliment with
interest!"

This was true, for Mr Webster had "got himself up" that morning with
elaborate care.  His morning coat still smelt of the brown paper in
which it had come home.  His waistcoat was immaculately white.  His
pearl-grey trousers were palpably new.  His lavender kid-gloves were
painfully clean.  His patent-leather boots were glitteringly black, and
his _tout ensemble_ such as to suggest the idea that a band-box was his
appropriate and native home.

"Don't be impatient, boy," he said, putting some books into an iron
safe, "I must attend to business first, you know."

"You have no right to attend to business at all, after making it over to
me, as you formally did yesterday," said Harry.  "If you come here
again, sir, and meddle with my department, I shall be compelled to
dissolve partnership at once!"

"Please, sir," said Mr Grinder, appearing suddenly at the door, in a
costume which was remarkable for its splendour and the badness of its
fit--for Grinder's was a figure that no ordinary tailor could
understand, "Captain Daniel Boyns is at the door."

"Send him in," said Webster.

"He won't come, sir; he's afraid of being late for the train."

"Well, well," said Webster, with a laugh, "come along.  Are you ready,
Grinder?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then, lock the office-door, and don't forget to take out the key."

So saying, the old gentleman took Harry's arm, and, accompanied by
Grinder and Captain Boyns senior, hurried to the train; was whirled in
due course to Covelly, and shortly after found himself seated at a
wedding-breakfast, along with our hero Harry Boyns, and our heroine
Annie Webster, who was costumed as a bride, and looked inexpressibly
bewitching.  Besides these there were present excellent Mrs Boyns--
happily no longer a widow!--and Grinder, whose susceptible nature
rendered it difficult for him to refrain from shedding tears; and a bevy
of bride's-maids, so beautiful and sweet that it seemed quite
preposterous to suppose that they could remain another day in the estate
of spinsterhood.  Mr Joseph Dowler was also there, self-important as
ever, and ready for action at a moment's notice; besides a number of
friends of the bride and bridegroom, among whom was a pert young
gentleman, friend of Mr Dowler, and a Mr Crashington, friend of Mr
Webster,--an earnest, enthusiastic old gentleman, who held the opinion
that most things in the world were wrong, and who wondered incessantly
"why in the world people would not set to work at once to put them all
right!"  Niven, the old nurse, was there too, of course all excitement
and tears, and so was Bob Gaston, whose appearance was powerfully
suggestive of the individual styled in the ballad, "the jolly young
waterman."

Now, it would take a whole volume, good reader, to give you the details
of all that was said and done by that wedding-party before that
breakfast was over.  But it is not necessary that we should go into full
details.  You know quite well, that when the health of the happy couple
was drunk, Annie blushed and looked down, and Harry tried to look at
ease, but failed to do so, in consequence of the speech which had cost
him such agonising thought the night before, which he had prepared with
such extreme care, which contained such an inconceivable amount of
sentimental nonsense, which he fortunately forgot every word of at the
critical moment of delivery, and, instead thereof, delivered a few
short, earnest, stammering sentences, which were full of bad grammar and
blunders, but which, nevertheless, admirably conveyed the true, manly
sentiments of his heart.  You also know, doubtless, that the groom's-man
rose to propose the health of the bride's-maids, but you cannot be
supposed to know that Dowler rose at the same time, having been told by
his pert young friend that he was expected to perform that duty in
consequence of the groom's-man being "unaccustomed to public speaking!"
Dowler, although not easily put down, was, after some trouble, convinced
that he had made a mistake, and sat down without making an apology, and
with a mental resolve to strike in at the first favourable opportunity.

When these and various other toasts had been drunk and replied to, the
health of Mr Crashington, as a very old friend of the bride's family,
was proposed.  Hereupon Crashington started to his feet.  Dowler, who
was slightly deaf, and had only caught something about "old friend of
the family," also started up, and announced to the company that that was
the happiest moment of his life; an announcement which the company
received with an explosion of laughter so loud and long that the two
"old friends of the family" stood gazing in speechless amazement at the
company, and at each other for three or four minutes.  At last silence
was obtained, and Dowler exclaimed, "Sir," to which Crashington replied,
"Sir," and several of the company cried, laughingly, "Sit down, Dowler."

It is certain that Dowler would not have obeyed the order, had not his
pert young friend caught him by the coat-tails and pulled him down with
such violence that he sat still astonished!

Then Crashington, ignoring him altogether, turned to Mr Webster, and
said vehemently--

"Sir, and Ladies and Gentlemen, if this is not the happiest moment of
_my_ life, it is at least the proudest.  I am proud to be recognised as
an old friend of the family to which our beautiful bride belongs; proud
to see my dear Annie wedded to a man who, besides possessing many great
and good qualities of mind, has shown himself pre-eminently capable of
cherishing and protecting his wife, by the frequency and success with
which he has risked his own life to save the lives of others.  But,
Ladies and Gentlemen, things more serious than proposing toasts and
paying compliments are before us to-day.  I regard this as a lifeboat
wedding, if I may be allowed the expression.  In early life the blooming
bride of to-day was saved by a lifeboat, and the brave man who steered
that boat, and dived into the sea to rescue the child, now sits on my
left hand.  Again, years after, a lifeboat saved, not only the bride,
but her father and her father's ship; which last, although comparatively
insignificant, was, nevertheless, the means of preventing the fortunes
of the family from being utterly wrecked, and the man who steered the
boat on that occasion, as you all know, was the bridegroom?  But--to
turn from the particular to the general question--I am sure, Ladies and
Gentlemen, that you will bear with me while I descant for a little on
the wrong that is done to society by the present state of our laws in
reference to the saving of life from shipwreck.  Despite the activity of
our noble Lifeboat Institution; despite the efficiency of her splendid
boats, and the courage of those who man them; despite the vigour and
zeal of our coastguardmen, whose working of the rocket apparatus cannot
be too highly praised; despite all this, I say, hundreds of lives are
lost annually on our coasts which might be saved; and I feel assured
that if the British public will continue their earnest support to our
great National Institution, this death-roll must continue to be
diminished.  My friends sometimes tell me that I am a visionary--that
many of my opinions are ridiculous.  Is it ridiculous that I should
regard the annual loss of nearly 600 lives, and above two millions of
money, as being worthy of the serious attention of every friend of his
country?

"Excuse me if I refrain from inflicting on you my own opinions, and,
instead, quote those of a correspondent of the _Times_..."

Here the old gentleman hastily unfolded a newspaper, and read as
follows:--

"`Why should not such an amount of information be obtained as will not
only induce, but enable the Board of Trade immediately to frame some
plain, practical measure, the enforcement of which would tend to lighten
the appalling yearly death-list from shipwreck?  The plan I would
suggest is that the Board of Trade should prepare a chart of the British
and Irish coasts, on which every lifeboat, rocket-apparatus, and mortar
station should be laid down and along with this a sort of guide-book,
with instructions giving every particular connected with them,--such as,
their distances from each other, whether they are stationary or
transportable, and the probable time that would elapse before one or the
other could be brought to work with a view to the rescue of the
shipwrecked crew.  To illustrate my idea more plainly, I will take the
eastern shore of Mounts Bay in Cornwall.  A vessel has been driven on
shore at Gunwalloe; the captain, having this chart, would find that
there is a lifeboat at Mullion, on the south, and a transporting
lifeboat at Porthleven, on the north of him, as well as a
rocket-apparatus at each place.  Referring to his book of instructions,
he would find something like this:--"The Mullion lifeboat will drop down
on you from Mullion Island.  The Porthleven boat will most likely be
launched from the beach opposite.  All going well, one or other of the
boats will be alongside in less than an hour and a half.  Look out and
get ready for the rocket lines in an hour after striking."  The very
knowledge even that the means of saving life are at hand would enable
the captain to maintain a certain amount of discipline, while passengers
and crew alike would retain in a great measure their presence of mind,
and be prepared for every emergency.  And again, as is often the case,
if a captain is compelled to run his ship ashore, with the view of
saving the lives intrusted to him, he would at once find from his chart
and book of instructions the safest and nearest point from which he
could obtain the desired assistance.  It should be imperative (not
optional, as at present) for every vessel to carry a certain number of
lifebelts.  The cork jacket recommended by the Royal National
Institution is by far the best yet introduced, not only on account of
its simplicity and cheapness, but because it affords, also, warmth and
protection to the body.'

"Now, Ladies and Gentlemen," continued Crashington earnestly, "here you
have the opinions of a man with whom I entirely agree, for, while much
is done by philanthropists, too little is done by Government to rescue
those who are in peril on our shores.  In conclusion, let me thank you,
Ladies and Gentlemen, for drinking my health, and permit me also to
reiterate my hope that the happy pair who have this day been united may
long live to support the lifeboat cause, and never require the services
of a lifeboat."

Although Crashington's remarks were regarded by some of the
wedding-party as being somewhat out of place, Mr John Webster listened
to them with marked attention, and replied to them with deep feeling.
After commenting slightly on the kind manner in which he had referred to
the heroic deeds of his son-in-law, and expressing his belief and hope,
that, now that he had married Annie, and become a member of the firm of
Webster and Company, a life of usefulness and happiness lay before him,
he went on to say--

"I heartily sympathise with you, sir, in designating this a
lifeboat-wedding, because, under God, my daughter and I owe our lives to
the lifeboat.  You are also right in stating that the lifeboat has been
the means of preserving my fortunes from being wrecked, because the
saving of the _Ocean Queen_ was a momentous turning-point in my affairs.
But a far higher and more blessed result has accrued to myself than the
saving of life or fortune, for these events have been made the means of
opening my eyes to the truth of God, and inducing me to accept the offer
of free forgiveness held out to me by that blessed Saviour to whom my
dear Annie has clung for many a year, while I was altogether immersed in
business.  I feel myself justified, therefore, in saying, with deep
humility and gratitude, that _I_ have been saved by the lifeboat--body
and soul."





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