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Title: The Captain's Story - or The Disobedient Son
Author: Martin, William S.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Captain's Story - or The Disobedient Son" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Illustration: "He sat down to rest himself."—_Page_ 10.]



                         *THE CAPTAIN’S STORY*


                         *THE DISOBEDIENT SON*

                        ADAPTED PROM THE GERMAN


                                   BY

                           WILLIAM S. MARTIN



                       JAMES NISBET & CO. LIMITED
                           21 BERNERS STREET
                                  1868



                              *CONTENTS.*


                               CHAPTER I.

The Stranger—The Castle—The Captain’s Soliloquy—The Pastor—The
Invitation


                              CHAPTER II.

The Children’s Expectation Disappointed—The Scapegrace—The Forester’s
House—Curiosity of the Villagers—Their Remarks—The Captain’s Luggage


                              CHAPTER III.

Invitation to Tea—Negroes—Curiosities—The Fable of the Grasshopper and
the Ant—The Explanation


                              CHAPTER IV.

The Portrait—The Captain begins his Story—His Wilfulness—Goes to the
University—Bad Behaviour there—His Father’s Letter—Refuses to send him
Money—He Runs Away


                               CHAPTER V.

He writes to his Father—Arrives at Amsterdam—His Father’s Answer—The
Curse—On the Quay—Meets a Fellow-Countryman—Is Kidnapped and Robbed—Sent
to Sea—Endures many Hardships


                              CHAPTER VI.

The Tempest—All Hope Lost—The Ship Founders—The only Survivor—The
Spar—Remorse—The Rock—A Sail in Sight—The Signal—Despair—The Sail in
Sight again—The Signal Seen—Saved—He Works his Passage to England—Is
Tired of a Seafaring Life


                              CHAPTER VII.

He Arrives at Portsmouth—Resolves to Return to his Father—Arrives at
Rotterdam—Sunday Morning—Writes to his Father—Is Penniless—The Curse of
Disobedience—The Sermon—Is Starving—Obtains Temporary Relief from an Old
Fellow-Student—Receives News of his Father’s Death—His Sorrow and
Remorse—Goes to Sea Again—Becomes Captain of a Ship


                             CHAPTER VIII.

His Marriage—The Portrait—His Terror—His Good Fortune Deserts him—Heavy
Losses—The Beggar—Recognises an Old Enemy—His Two Children are
Drowned—His Wife Dies—Is Bankrupt—In Prison—The English Clergyman—Is
Brought to Repentance—Is Set Free—The Fisherman and Basket-maker


                              CHAPTER IX.

Accepts the Command of a Ship—The Pirates—The Fight—Victory—Meets an Old
Friend—His Friend’s Adventures


                               CHAPTER X.

Makes Several Successful Voyages—Becomes Rich—Buys a Ship of his
Own—Makes his Fortune—Retires from the Sea—Returns to his Native Village


                              CHAPTER XI.

The Curse Revoked—Conclusion



                         *THE CAPTAIN’S STORY.*


                              *CHAPTER I.*


The Stranger—The Castle—The Captain’s Soliloquy—The Pastor—The
Invitation.


    "I travelled among unknown men,
      In lands beyond the sea;
    Nor did I know, sweet home, till then,
      What love I bore to thee.

    "’Tis past, that melancholy dream!
      Nor will I quit thy shore
    A second time; for still I seem
      To love thee more and more.
        —WORDSWORTH.


Towards the close of a beautiful day in autumn, the last rays of the
setting sun were gilding the tops of the mountains, which overhang the
picturesque valley of Bergstrasse, along which winds the road from
Heidelberg to Frankfort.  The heavily laden country carts and waggons
were toiling slowly along the dusty highway, both horses and drivers
looking hot and tired, and both, no doubt, very glad that they had
nearly reached the end of their day’s journey; while every now and then
a horseman, or a carriage with ladies and gentlemen inside, dashed
rapidly along, and soon left the more heavily loaded vehicles far
behind.  What a striking picture of human life and the great journey we
all are taking—some of us struggling wearily, and oftentimes painfully,
but always, let us trust, hopefully, under a heavy load, and others
trotting merrily along their course, happy, and apparently at least free
from care.  Who shall say which of the two shall reach the end most
safely!

While the broad high-road presented this animated scene, the steep rocky
footpath cut in the side of the mountain, and leading up to the old
ruined castle of Aurburg on its summit, was almost deserted; not quite
deserted, though; for, toiling up the steep ascent was an old man, who,
in spite of the help afforded him by his stout bamboo cane, looked very
tired as he went slowly along. He was rather a strange-looking old man,
respectably dressed, and with a pleasant-looking face; but his clothes
and general appearance were different from those of the people commonly
seen about there, and his bronzed, weather-beaten features showed him to
be, if not a foreigner, one who had evidently been for some time in a
foreign country.  Indeed, the little boy who passed him on his way down
to the valley with his goats, and the little girl going home with her
bundle of sticks for the fire, seemed half afraid of him as they bade
him good-night, and even when he had gone by, they turned round to look
at him as he went on up the mountain-side.

In spite of his evident weariness, the stranger kept bravely on; and
just as the sun was disappearing behind a long range of mountains in the
west, he reached the ruins of the old castle, of which only one tower
and a few walls were then standing. Here he sat down to rest himself on
a large heap of stones which had long since fallen from the walls of the
castle, and were now all overgrown with lichens and ferns, and seemed
for some moments lost in thought. His eyes wandered over the rich
landscape which lay spread out beneath his feet; then, giving vent to
the emotions which filled his heart, he exclaimed: "Yes, this is the old
place again, and after forty years’ absence I have at last returned to
take one more look at these mountains and forests which I remember so
well.  There, too, far away down the valley, glides the beautiful river,
along whose banks I so often wandered when I was a boy.  Ah, it is a
true saying, ’There is no place like home!’  And yet, after all, our
real home is not in this world, but in heaven.  There are all who were
dear to me, and there I trust soon to meet them again; but now I am left
alone—alone in the world!  What a change a few short years have made!"

The old man sat silent for a few minutes, and then in a voice full of
emotion began singing part of a beautiful English hymn which touchingly
expresses the instability of all human affairs:—

    "Change and decay on all around I see:
    O Thou that changest not, abide with me."


While he was singing, two children, hearing him, came close up behind
him, and when he had finished began to cough in order to attract his
attention.  For some time he took no notice, but at last he turned, and
saw two nicely-dressed children, a little boy and girl, who wished him
good evening and made a bow.  He was about to speak to them, when their
father, who had also heard him singing, came up, and supposing him to be
an Englishman, said to him in English, "Although, sir, we are strangers,
it is true, those beautiful words you were singing, which I am sure come
from your heart, prove to me that we both look up to one common Father
in heaven.  I am the pastor of the little village you can see down
there, at the foot of the mountain.  But it is growing dark, and if, as
I presume, you are a stranger in these parts, I can gladly offer you the
simple accommodation of my cottage for the night."

The stranger answered in German: "Your kind invitation is very welcome,
sir.  An old sea-captain like me is not much in the habit of paying
compliments; I can only say I gladly accept your hospitality."

Guided by the last glimmer of twilight, they took their way at once
towards the peaceful village, the steeple of which was just peeping up
above the trees.  On their way the captain told the pastor that he bad
only arrived at the neighbouring village of Aurbach that afternoon.
"But," said he, "I could not rest, tired as I was with my day’s
travelling, until I had been up here to look at the old castle, which I
have not seen for forty years."



                             *CHAPTER II.*


The Children’s Expectation Disappointed—The Scapegrace—The Forester’s
House—Curiosity of the Villagers—Their Remarks—The Captain’s Luggage.


    "I knew by the smoke that so gracefully curled
      Above the green elms, that a cottage was near;
    And I said, ’If there’s peace to be found in the world,
      A heart that was humble might hope for it here.’

    "It was noon, and on flowers that languished around,
      In silence reposed the voluptuous bee;
    Every leaf was at rest, and I heard not a sound
      But the woodpecker tapping the hollow beech-tree."
        —MOORE.


Night had already closed in when they reached the village, and the moon
was just appearing over the tops of the mountains. Here they were met by
the pastor’s wife. She had already heard of the stranger’s arrival from
the two children, who had run home before.  "Pray do not be alarmed at
the sight of a strange and unexpected guest," said the old man to her,
"I hope my arrival will not inconvenience you at all."  "Not in the
least, sir," replied she, "you are very welcome to such accommodation as
we can offer."

Upon this they entered the house, and were soon comfortably seated in
the parlour, while the children, who had heard that the stranger was a
great traveller, listened very attentively, hoping that he would begin
talking of his long voyages, and perhaps tell them some interesting
stories of his adventures.  This evening, however, they were doomed to
be disappointed, for though the captain could easily have satisfied
their curiosity, and amused them for a long time with an account of some
of the dangers he had passed through, and the many foreign countries he
had visited, he seemed just then to be more inclined to seek for
information on different points, than to talk about himself and his own
doings.

He began by asking the pastor a great many questions about different
places in the neighbourhood, and the people (several of whose names he
knew) who used to live there; and seemed very much interested in all he
heard.  He then inquired whether there were still living any descendants
of the former pastor, a Mr Buchman.  "So far as I know, there are none,"
replied the pastor, "indeed, I understand he had only one son, a regular
scapegrace, who left home a long time ago, and has never been heard of
since."  "It must be nearly forty years since Pastor Buchman lived
here," he added, "perhaps you remember him?"

"Indeed I do," said the captain, "I remember him well, for he was my
father, and I am no other than the only son you spoke of!"

"Is it possible?" cried the worthy man, a little disconcerted; "are you
indeed that very young man, of whose wilful character I have heard so
many speak?  Forgive me, my friend, for having spoken of you as a
scapegrace.  How could I imagine that you, who as a boy were so wild and
disobedient, would have become a quiet and pious man, as you seem to me
to be."  "Yes, thank God," said the captain in a voice trembling with
emotion, "He has at length, after many hard trials and severe
chastisements, shown me the error of my ways, and guided my feet into
the way of peace.  But pray excuse my speaking more on this subject just
now.  I could scarcely relate all the details of my long story to-night,
and, fatigued as I am, it would be too much for me; indeed, as it is,
the idea of passing the night under your roof almost overcomes me; for
this is the very house that I was born in, and here, too, my parents
both died."

Notwithstanding his anxiety to hear a full account of the extraordinary
events in the life of his guest, the worthy pastor considerately
forebore to touch on the subject again during the evening.  As to the
children, they did not cease to pay the greatest attention, hoping to
hear, at least, something interesting, but in vain.  The captain sat
buried in thought, and during the short time before supper scarcely
spoke a word.  Directly after supper, the pastor read a chapter from the
Bible, and made a short evening prayer, and then the children had to go
to bed.  This seemed to them a greater hardship to-night than it had
ever done before, and they could not help thinking, as they went
up-stairs, that perhaps the captain might relate his adventures after
they had gone, and so they should miss hearing them. They kept all these
thoughts to themselves, however, for they were good, obedient children,
and went to bed without murmuring.

After they had left the room, the captain still refrained from speaking
on the subject of his travels, only telling the pastor of his intention
of spending the rest of his life in his native village, if he could find
a suitable house, either to rent or buy.  His host heard this resolution
with pleasure, and told him that there was a neat, comfortable cottage,
close by his own parsonage, which was for sale; it had belonged to a
forester who had died about six months ago, and would, he thought, be
very likely to suit him.  They continued talking on various subjects for
some little time, till the pastor’s wife reminded them that it was past
ten o’clock. Upon this they went up to bed; but for nearly an hour
afterwards the pastor heard his guest, who slept in an adjoining room,
walking up and down, and occasionally praying in a loud voice.  After a
time, however, all was silent, and peaceful sleep closed the labours of
the day.

The next morning the two children were the first down-stairs.  They had
always been accustomed to get up early, and little Willie, when only
four years old, once said to his father, "Isn’t it a shame, papa, to let
the sun get up before we do?  He must be more tired than we are, for he
has such a long way to go every day."  Their father usually employed the
first part of the morning in taking them both out for a walk, either up
the mountains, or in the fields, or perhaps into the forest, where they
would gather ferns or flowers, and get him to tell them their names.
But to-day they seemed so anxious to hear the captain’s adventures, that
they did not like to go out far, for fear they might miss some
opportunity of hearing his story; and they could scarcely contain their
joy when their mother told them that he was not going to leave Dornbach
(that was the name of the village), but was going to live at the
forester’s house.

In a retired country village like Dornbach, where everything went on
from one week’s end to another in the same quiet manner, it was rarely
indeed that anything occurred to furnish the villagers with a new topic
of conversation, and every traveller who stopped at the road-side inn,
if it were only to bait his horse, created quite a sensation.  If the
stranger should happen to get into conversation with any one, for the
next three days at least every one in the place would be talking about
him.  This was specially the case now when the report was spread that
the captain of a ship had arrived at the parsonage, not for a passing
visit, but with the intention of settling in the neighbourhood; and when
it was further reported that this old captain was no other than the much
talked-of son of the late Pastor Buchman, well remembered by the older
inhabitants as the scapegrace, the excitement of the good people of
Dornbach was immense. This was now the subject of everybody’s
conversation.  The people all seemed to have forgotten their ordinary
occupations; everywhere they were to be seen gathered together in
groups, talking about the news of the day, of which, however, as yet
they knew very little.

"Oh yes, I have seen him," said old Hannah; "I saw him yesterday, when
he first came to the village."

"Is he not very rich?" asked another.

"Of course he is," said Frau Margaret; "how can he be otherwise, if he
is really the captain of a ship?  I’m sure he must have a million of
money."

"A million of money!" muttered the old bailiff; "if he had half as much
as that he would never think of shutting himself up in an out-of-the-way
village like this."

"If he had twice as much," said old father Nicholas, with an air of
irony, "he would not have it long, if he is anything like what he used
to be.  Ah, I remember him well: I was at school with him, and if ever
there was a spendthrift in the world, one who did not even seem to know
there was such a word as ’save,’ believe me, he is the man."

In short, every one had something to say on the subject, in spite of the
fact that no one knew anything about it; and after a great deal had been
said, they came to the conclusion that there was nothing for it but to
wait and see what would happen.

While all this was going on in the village, the captain had sent down to
the inn at Aurbach, where he had left his luggage, and ordered it to be
sent to Dornbach, to his new house, which the bailiff had put into good
repair for him.  He had also borrowed some necessary furniture from his
good friend the pastor, until he could get some of his own from the
neighbouring town. When the cart arrived with his boxes and portmanteaus
in it, the curiosity of the villagers received a fresh impetus.  "What
can he have in that strong-looking box?" said one.  "If it were money,
two men could could never carry it.  And look what a number of packages
besides!  I can’t think what a single man can want with so much
luggage."

"How do you know he is single?" answered another: "he may, for all we
know, have a wife and family, who will come down here when his house is
ready for them."

"Well, well, perhaps that is it," said a third, who stood opposite; "we
must wait and see."

Willie and his sister Mary were quite as curious as any one else, and
kept asking their papa what all those boxes contained.  "I really do not
know," was his answer; "perhaps when he has unpacked them he will show
you some day, if you are good children."

The captain soon set to work unpacking, but for more than a week he did
not ask any of his friends to go and look at his treasures. Even the old
servant whom he had engaged was not allowed to go into the room where
most of his boxes were, so that for a time every one’s curiosity
remained unsatisfied. As it was only a few steps through his garden
(which joined that of the pastor) to the parsonage, he had made
arrangements with the pastor’s wife to dine with them regularly, so that
he might not be troubled with the duties of housekeeping.



                             *CHAPTER III.*


Invitation to Tea—Negroes—Curiosities—The Fable of the Grasshopper and
the Ant—The Explanation.


    "Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
    Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round;
    And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
    Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
    That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
    So let us welcome peaceful evening in."
      —COWPER.


One evening, a little more than a week after the captain had moved into
the forester’s house, he invited the pastor and his wife and the two
children to go and take tea with him. On arriving at the house they were
shown at once into the room which had been kept so securely locked up
since the luggage had arrived, and were delighted at seeing the result
of his labours.  The children, too, were much amused with looking at
some tapestry which covered one of the walls, representing three black
slaves in the act of handing coffee and refreshments to the visitors.
These were as large as life, and so well done, that at first the
children were quite frightened, believing them to be real negroes.  When
they were all seated, the captain gave them some genuine and very rare
tea served in fine porcelain cups which he had brought from China, and
also some nice preserved fruits and sweetmeats from the Indies.  The
room was quite full of curiosities of all kinds, and the pastor’s wife
was much interested in looking at some beautiful silks from the Levant,
and several curiously carved boxes containing spices from the Molucca
Islands, and also coffee and cocoa-berries, cotton-pods, and specimens
of many other useful articles, which in their prepared state were well
known to her.

The chief attraction for the pastor and the two children was a fine
collection of objects of natural history, which the captain had already
found time to put in order.  There were some stuffed birds from foreign
countries, which the captain had shot, and several cases containing a
great many splendid butterflies from Brazil.  They saw also, hanging on
the walls of the room, wooden spears and roughly-made axes, with bows
and arrows, and other weapons used by the savages of different countries
which their host had visited.  On the mantel-piece, too, were some lumps
of amber from the Black Sea, porphyry from the ruins of Carthage, large
shells and fine pieces of coral, agate, and many other curiosities from
the sea. Beside the large shells on the mantel-piece, there was a
beautiful collection of smaller ones in a small cabinet on the
sideboard. In another cabinet, which was made of ebony, and handsomely
inlaid with mother-of-pearl and silver, they were shown a valuable
assortment of precious stones from Persia and the Indies.

The delight of the children when they saw all these curiosities was
unbounded, and they asked so many questions, first about one thing they
saw and then about another, that it was impossible for the captain to
satisfy their curiosity in one evening.  When the time came for them to
go home, they were very sorry, but were consoled by the hope of often
visiting their kind friend, and getting him to tell them all about his
different treasures.  After this first visit, the children were often
allowed to go over to see the captain, and each time they did so he had
something new to surprise them with—either some curiosity to show them,
or perhaps a long and interesting story to tell them about some of the
foreign countries he had visited.  Sometimes, too, he would let them
read to him out of a little book full of pretty stories and fables which
he had bought, and then he would explain to them all that they read.

One day they had been reading the fable of the grasshopper and the ant,
in which the grasshopper is represented as blaming the ant for working
so hard during the fine summer weather, instead of enjoying the bright
sunshine, and leaving the future to take care of itself.  The ant
replies that she knows it is very pleasant to have nothing to do but to
play and sing among the grass and the flowers, but instinct has taught
her that the bright warm weather must in time be exchanged for cold
gloomy days with frost and snow, when no food is to be got, and so she
is seeking, while she has an opportunity, to lay up a store against a
rainy day.  The captain asked little Mary if she knew what was meant by
the grasshopper in the fable.  "I don’t know," was her answer; "but I
think it must mean a man."

"Yes, my dear," said he, "it does represent a man; but what sort of man?
Perhaps Willie can tell us."

"I suppose," said Willie, after thinking a little while, "that the
grasshopper in the fable is intended to represent those people who live
without any care for the future, and who, when they have plenty of
everything around them, forget that a time may come when they will not
be able to work, and who never lay up anything for their future wants."

"That is quite right," said the captain, "and we may learn, too, from
this fable, to make a good use of our opportunities while we have
them,—not only to lay by money as a provision for old age, but, while we
are young, to try by diligence and study to lay in a store of useful
knowledge, and above all to ’remember our Creator in the days of our
youth,’ instead of leaving it to an old age, which we may never live to
see."



                             *CHAPTER IV.*


The Portrait—The Captain begins his Story—His Wilfulness—Goes to the
University—Bad Behaviour there—His Father’s Letter—Refuses to send him
Money—He Runs Away.


    "In all my wanderings round this world of care,
    In all my griefs—and God has given my share—
    I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown,
    Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;
      *      *      *      *      *
    Around my fire an evening group to draw,
    And tell of all I felt, and all I saw."
        —GOLDSMITH.


Every time the pastor went to see the captain, he could not help
noticing that his eyes were very often fixed on a portrait which hung
just over the looking-glass, and he noticed, too, that whenever he was
looking at it, his eyes were filled with tears.  At first, from a
feeling of delicacy, he did not like to ask him the cause of this; but
at length he thought that his title of friend added to that of pastor
made it his duty to endeavour to free his friend from the burden of some
unhappy memory, under which he was evidently labouring.  One day, then,
when he found him alone, he said to him, "My dear friend, how is it that
you are always gazing at that portrait with such an expression of
sadness on your countenance?"

"All, my dear pastor," answered the captain, "your question touches the
spring of all my grief.  Even now, that all my wanderings are over, and
I am settled down here, leading such a peaceful, quiet life in my native
village, how can I be happy when every moment the memory of him whose
face you see there comes up before my mind?"

"Whose portrait is it, then?" asked the pastor.

"It is my father’s," was the reply; "but for you to fully understand my
feelings when I think of him, you must know something of my history; and
as the present is a good opportunity, I will relate my story to you and
to your family.  I should like you all to know what troubles I have
passed through."

The pastor’s wife and children did not want asking twice to come and
listen to the captain’s adventures, which they had so long been hoping
and longing to hear. When they had all come and were seated, he began
his story.

"I was, as you know, born in this village in the year 17—.  Shortly
after my birth, my mother died, leaving me, her only child, to my
father’s care.  He, sadly distressed at her loss, resolved never to
marry again.  He was a pious and very learned man, and as I grew up he
took great pains to instruct me in the fear of God; but his parochial
duties and his studies prevented him from having me constantly under his
own eye.  I was, indeed, left in a great measure to the care of an old
aunt, who was very deaf, and whose weak, easy good-nature could not
restrain my naturally headstrong disposition, so that I had no lack of
opportunities for disobeying my father’s commands, and satisfying my own
taste for amusements of which he did not approve.  I never found any
difficulty in learning, and indeed could always get my tasks done long
before the time I had to say them, so that I had a great deal of spare
time on my hands which I used to spend in the streets, playing with the
little boys of the village, who taught me a great many bad habits.
Whenever I was found out, it is true, I was severely punished, and for a
little while was more sharply looked after, but I too often managed to
deceive my father, and did not hesitate even at falsehoods in order to
be able to follow the bent of my own bad disposition.

"My father had intended that I should become a pastor like himself.  My
taste, however, was rather for a life of travels; but I dared not set up
my will in opposition to his, and in my eighteenth year I left his house
and entered the University at Giessen. The liberty which the students
there enjoyed pleased me amazingly, and I endeavoured to avail myself of
it to the utmost. I studied, however, with great diligence, and my
natural aptitude for learning always left me plenty of time to devote to
pleasure. Little by little I found my studies become irksome to me, and
my desire for amusement increase, until at length I entirely gave up all
serious occupations, and used to pass all my time either in
pleasure-parties or in the public house.  Before I left home my bad
behaviour had gained for me the name of the Scapegrace, and at the
University I did my best to show myself worthy of the title.

"It was not long before my father was informed of my disorderly conduct,
and you can understand what impression such a report made upon him.  He
wrote me a most affectionate letter, full of the most touching
exhortations to give up my evil course.  This at the time sensibly moved
me, and made me seriously resolve to turn over a new leaf.  Soon,
however, my love of pleasure, aided by the influence of bad companions,
made me break through all my good resolutions; I was ashamed of what my
associates called my weakness, and I soon fell lower than ever.  Oh how
deeply has the experience of that time proved to me the truth of that
saying of an old French writer, ’The being ashamed of what is right is
the root and source of all our misery.’

"When my father saw that all his exhortations were without effect, and
all my promises without any result, he tried the plan of refusing to
send me any more money, hoping that the want of means to indulge my bad
habits would bring me back to a better frame of mind.  This plan,
however, was far from being successful.  I soon got into debt, and when
at last no one would trust me any longer, I sold my books and every
article of value that I had, and getting on the coach, I resolved to
make my way to Amsterdam and go to sea.  The journey to Amsterdam suited
me very well, for I found most of my travelling companions were young
men of about my own stamp, and with them I passed the time pleasantly
enough.  Over and over again, I repeated to myself the foolish wish, ’Oh
that I could be always as happy as I am now.’"



                              *CHAPTER V.*


He writes to his Father—Arrives at Amsterdam—His Father’s Answer—The
Curse—On the Quay—Meets a Fellow Countryman—Is Kidnapped and Robbed—Sent
to Sea—Endures many Hardships.


"Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his
soul shall be far from them."—PROV. xxii. 5.


"Before quitting Giessen I had written to my father to tell him of my
resolution, and I had also the effrontery to ask him to send me some
money.  He was, you may be sure, deeply grieved on receiving such a
letter, but when I reached Amsterdam I found an answer from him, in
which he enclosed £20.  The letter contained the most earnest and
affectionate exhortations to me to return and repent, assuring me of his
willingness to forgive me if I did so; if, however, in spite of all he
could say, I should refuse and still persist in my mad and wicked
course, he added, ’My curse shall be upon you, and follow you always.’
I was much agitated by these terrible words, and I seriously thought
when I read them that I dared not go on; but whether it was that I was
ashamed to go back, or from my desire to travel about the world, or the
idea that such a threat uttered, I was sure, in a moment of anger, would
never be fulfilled, I hardened my heart against my better feelings, and
obstinately persisted in the course I had chosen.  Alas, how soon was I
to know, by bitter experience, the terrible effects of a father’s curse!

"However, I strove to dismiss all such thoughts from my mind, and went
down to the quay with all my money, nearly £30, in my pocket, to look
out for a ship about to sail either for North America or the Indies. I
was not very particular which, my great desire being to get to sea as
soon as possible, and then, I thought, my happiness will begin.  Having
heard that there was a fine vessel then loading for Surinam, I took a
boat and went on board to see the captain, but I soon found my means
were insufficient for such a long voyage, and returned from the ship
quite low-spirited.  This may seem strange, but it is a fact that
whenever we are doing wrong wilfully, and pursuing any course which our
conscience cannot approve, the slightest repulse is sufficient to cause
us great uneasiness, and any little hindrance we may meet with, which at
another time we should think nothing of, is then enough to make us quite
unhappy.  This was the case with me, and I felt very miserable as I was
walking up and down the quay.  The course I had chosen was one of
disobedience and sin, and I was realising the truth of the words, ’There
is no peace to the wicked.’

"I had been walking up and down for nearly a quarter of an hour in this
way, when on raising my eyes I noticed a well-dressed young man
apparently waiting to speak to me.  When I got near him he bowed
politely, and addressed me in German, ’Excuse me, sir, but you seem to
be a stranger in this town, and, if I am not mistaken, a German.  I am
also quite a stranger here, and I am rejoiced to meet with a
fellow-countryman.’  I was very glad to hear this, and assured him of
the pleasure I felt at meeting him, and thus we soon got into
conversation together.

"When he heard that I intended to go abroad, and thought of going to
North America, he seemed agreeably surprised, and told me that he had
just engaged a passage to New York in a vessel which was to sail the
next day, and added, ’If you like, I can take you to the captain’s
house, for I think he has room for another passenger, and on our way we
can see the vessel, which is not far from here.’  I thanked him for his
kind offer, and we walked arm in arm down the quay, where he soon showed
me the ship riding at anchor.  She was a fine vessel, newly painted, and
looking very trim and neat.  It seemed a very long way to the captain’s
house, and I am sure we must have gone more than a mile together before
we got there.  My new friend seemed to know the house well, and led me
down several passages, to a little room at the back of the premises,
where he left me, telling me he would go and call the captain.  As he
went out, I heard a slight grating noise, as though he had locked the
door after him; and, though I quite laughed at the idea, yet after
waiting impatiently for nearly half-an-hour for the captain to come, I
thought I would just look up and down the passage and see if I could
find any one who would tell me where he was.

"On reaching the door, you may imagine my consternation at finding it
was indeed locked.  Horror seized me, for I found I was like a mouse
caught in a trap.  I flew to the window and found it was securely nailed
down, and then saw, what I had not noticed before, that it was guarded
outside by stout iron bars.  I now began to realise the situation I was
in, and concluded that I was the victim of one of those crimps, or
kidnappers, who in those times infested seaport towns, and, as I had
read, used all manner of artifices to decoy unwary travellers into their
dens in order to rob them, and then sell them into the military service
of some distant colony.  This thought almost drove me frantic.  I tore
my hair and wrung my hands, and stamped on the floor with my feet.  I
screamed and called for help, but all in vain: my prison was too well
chosen for my cries to reach any but the persons of the house, and after
an hour spent in vain endeavours to escape, I sank exhausted into a
chair, and sullenly awaited my fate.

"After waiting about two hours (as it seemed to me) in this terrible
state of rage, grief, and despair, I heard the door unlocked and
prepared myself to make one desperate effort for my liberty.  The door
was thrown open, and I felt my last chance of escape was gone, when I
saw two men enter with pistols, loaded and cocked, in their hands.  They
soon compelled me, by threats of instant death if I resisted, to hand
over all my money to them, and then I was obliged to change my clothes
for a very dirty sailor’s dress which one of them had brought with him.
They were deaf to all my entreaties for pity, and though I wept and
besought them to let me go, even if they took all I had from me, and
promised them a liberal reward, it was all in vain; they took no notice
whatever of my complaints, and merely putting down some bread and
cheese, and a mug of water on the table, they gathered up all my
clothes, and left me to my own reflections.

"When night came on, I was again aroused and taken out of the house by a
back-door and conveyed on board a ship, where I found several other
young men, who, I concluded from their melancholy and dejected air, were
in a similar predicament to myself.  Our captors were too numerous and
well-armed for resistance to be of any avail, and as I could see that
anything of the kind must only end in making our situation still worse
than it was, I made up my mind to suffer all my misery as patiently as I
could.

"As long as we were in sight of the land we were kept down in the hold,
and carefully guarded day and night by armed men, and I was quite
thankful when we got well out to sea, and were allowed to go on deck. We
soon found, however, that our masters had no intention of letting us be
idle during the voyage, for we were kept constantly employed about the
ship, and made to do all the hardest and dirtiest work.  This was very
distasteful to me with my lazy habits, for I had never done a day’s hard
work before in my life, and latterly even study had become quite irksome
to me.  The curse which my father had pronounced upon me had already
begun to be terribly fulfilled, and I now began to believe that it was
indeed to follow me always."



                             *CHAPTER VI.*


The Tempest—All Hope Lost—The Ship Founders—The only Survivor—The
Spar—Remorse—The Rock—A Sail in Sight—The Signal—Despair—The Sail in
Sight again—The Signal Seen—Saved—He Works his Passage to England—Is
Tired of a Seafaring Life.


    "Colder and louder blew the wind,
      A gale from the north-east;
    The snow fell hissing in the brine,
      And the billows frothed like yeast.

    "Down came the storm and smote amain
      The vessel in its strength;
    She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
      Then leaped her cable’s length."
        —LONGFELLOW.


"When I was at the university, I had indeed been accustomed to low
society; but when I came to hear the conversation of some of the sailors
on board, my hair stood on end with horror.  I would have given anything
to have been employed in some way, so that I might have avoided hearing
all day long the terrible oaths of these wicked men, compared with whom
I seemed to myself to be a very model of excellence; but as I had
neglected the study of mathematics when I had the opportunity, I had not
sufficient knowledge of the principles of navigation to be employed in
anything but manual labour.

"Our ship was freighted for Batavia, so that I had no hope of any change
for the better in my miserable condition for a long time, and my
wretchedness reached its height when I was told that on our arrival I
should be compelled to join a regiment of Dutch troops.  No life,
indeed, could be less to my taste than that of a soldier, on account of
the strict discipline which is always enforced in the army.  It was,
however, decreed that we should never reach our destination.

"Soon after we had crossed the Line, a sudden and violent gale drove our
vessel out of her course, and for two days and nights we were driving at
the mercy of the wind.  No sooner had we succeeded in making some little
way against this gale, than a violent tempest arose, and we were obliged
to devote all our attention to saving the ship.  AH round the ship the
sea and sky were enveloped in thick darkness, broken by repeated flashes
of lightning, which served only to show us the danger of our position.
At one moment the vessel rose on the tops of the immense mountain-like
waves, and the instant after plunged down into a vast hollow, leaving
the waters standing up around us like a wall.  While one party of the
sailors were trying in vain to furl the sails, the rest were kept busily
at work at the pumps.  By this time the hold was half full of water, and
every moment we were expecting the ship to go to pieces, as her timbers
were too old and rotten to bear the strain upon them.  Soon we lost all
hope of saving the ship, and the crew ceased making any further
exertions, every one seeking for some means of saving his own life.  The
vessel then began to settle deeper and deeper in the water, and soon
after disappeared beneath the waves.  Before this, however, I had thrown
myself into the sea, and was then clinging to a part of the mast, which
had been washed away.  Several of the crew beside myself had sought for
safety in a similar way; but when the sky grew a little lighter, and I
was able to look around me, I could see no one, I seemed to be the only
survivor.

[Illustration: "Clinging to a part of the mast which had been washed
away."]

"The storm continued to rage furiously all night, and it was with
difficulty that I managed to keep on the slippery spar which was now my
only support.  All night long, amid the howling of the tempest, I seemed
to hear my father’s words ringing in my ears. I tried to pray, but
remorse was busy in my heart, and conscience kept repeating to me, ’Why
did you not return to your father, like the prodigal son, when you knew
he was ready to forgive you, and to receive you with outstretched arms?’
At length this terrible night, the longest I have ever passed through,
came to an end, and when at last daylight returned, I was very thankful
to see, close by me, a large rock, which I managed to reach, though not
without great difficulty. Benumbed as I was with passing the night in
the water, I clung eagerly to it, and, after resting a while, dragged my
weary limbs as high above the water as I could, and gazed eagerly out
over the wide expanse of sea. For a long time, however, I looked in vain
for any signs of help; but at length, to my great joy, I descried a sail
far away in the distance, apparently making towards me.

"I was so weak and faint with my long immersion, that although this
sight seemed to put new life in me, it was as much as I could do to
clamber up to the top of the rock, and my hands and feet were much cut
by the sharp shells and edges of rock.  I scarcely noticed this, so
great was my eagerness to make a signal to the ship I had seen, and to
let those on board know that on this solitary reef there was a poor
shipwrecked mariner. I had of course no means of making a fire, so I at
once pulled off my shirt and waved it in the air, as the only way I had
to make myself seen.  All was in vain: the ship was too far off to
notice my signal, and instead of coming nearer, as I had hoped, she
tacked round on another course, and gradually disappeared in the
distance.

"As the vessel slowly faded away from my sight, I sank down on the rock
in despair.  My situation was indeed desperate; the small rock on which
I was, was only about fifty yards in circumference, and had nothing but
a little moss and sea-weed growing on it.  It is true there were a few
shell-fish clinging to it, but I knew it would be impossible for me to
support myself long on them, and besides, I had not a drop of water.  I
feared that I had only escaped death by drowning, to perish more
miserably still by starvation.  But even in this extremity, God’s
goodness was watching over me, although I had so long despised and
forgotten Him.  Suddenly a breeze sprang up from the westward, and I had
the unspeakable joy of seeing the very ship which had passed in the
morning heave in sight once more.  Again I waved my shirt in the air,
and made every signal I could think of, and, after a long time, what was
my delight to see that I was observed.  A boat was soon lowered, and
half an hour afterwards I found myself on board the good ship _Morning
Star_, homeward bound to England from India.

"The captain received me very kindly, and supplied me with some dry
clothes, giving me at the same time a good meal, of which I stood much
in need.  The anxiety and exposure I had undergone, however, made me
quite ill, and for three or four days I was under the doctor’s care.  On
my recovery, I was obliged to work my passage home, and this employment
became so distasteful to me, that I quite lost all my love of roving,
and made up my mind, if once I got safely on shore, never again to set
my foot on board ship."



                             *CHAPTER VII.*


He Arrives at Portsmouth—Resolves to Return to his Father—Arrives at
Rotterdam—Sunday Morning—Writes to his Father—Is Penniless—The Curse of
Disobedience—The Sermon—Is Starving—Obtains Temporary Belief from an Old
Fellow-Student—Receives News of his Father’s Death—His Sorrow and
Remorse—Goes to Sea Again—Becomes Captain of a Ship.


    "Wild is the whirlwind rolling
      O’er Afric’s sandy plain,
    And wild the tempest howling
      Along the billowed main;
    But every danger felt before—
    The raging deep, the whirlwind’s roar.
    Less dreadful struck me with dismay,
    Than what I feel this fatal day."
        —GOLDSMITH.


"After a favourable voyage we arrived at Portsmouth, to which port the
ship was bound.  I took leave of the captain to seek my fortune
elsewhere.  He wished me good luck, and paid me my wages for the
homeward passage, which, however, did not last me long.  Finding myself
again penniless, and without any means of earning my living, I resolved
to return to my father.  Accordingly, I shipped as a common sailor on
board a bark bound for Holland.  We had beautiful weather, and after a
very good passage I landed at Rotterdam.  It was early on a Sunday
morning, and as there was no business connected with the ship to prevent
me, I thought I could not do less than go to church, and there give
thanks to God for the great deliverance He had given me.  This will show
that the dangers through which I had passed, and the experience I had
gained, had not been without some influence on the state of my soul.  I
had become more serious, my outward conduct, at least, was much
improved; but, notwithstanding this, I had as yet experienced no real
change of heart.

"Had I but fully realised the meaning of the sermon I heard that day, I
should have felt that something more than this was necessary—a real
inward purification, and a complete renunciation, even in thought, of
the sins which had led me astray.  One part of the discourse ran
thus:—’God regards not only those things which a man does, not only his
outward actions; His eye can also see our inmost thoughts, and He knows
the true motive of every action of our lives.  He regards not the
outward appearance, but the inner reality; not the shell, but the
kernel; that is, the inmost feeling and disposition of the heart; the
shell is only the outward act. He sees the grain, and not the husk only;
the treasure, not the box which contains it; the sword, and not the
scabbard which hides it from our less penetrating view.  What can it
avail to have the scabbard ornamented with gold and jewels, if in the
day of battle the sword is found edgeless, and covered with rust?  Who
would value a crop, however fine it might look as it stands in the
field, if all the ears of corn were blighted and withered?  Doubtless it
is well that our outward actions should be of the highest and noblest
character; this is indeed the sign of a well-regulated and religious
life; but only truly are they such when they proceed from pure and noble
motives, and are the expression of sound principles within.’

"The same day I wrote to my father again, and told him how I was
situated.  I assured him of my true repentance, and begged him to send
me sufficient money to enable me to return to him.  But while waiting to
hear from him, I had only about two shillings in my pocket, and this was
entirely gone by Wednesday.  I knew his reply could not reach me for
four days, and in the meantime I had not a penny to pay for board and
lodging.  I would not beg, though my circumstances were really worse
than those of the poorest beggar in the streets, and I had not then that
faith and trust in our heavenly Father’s care, which I have since
through His mercy been enabled to feel.  I knew not as yet what it was
to be a child of God.  I determined, however, to bear my hunger till
some relief arrived from my father.  All day on Friday I had literally
nothing to eat, and by Saturday night I felt weak and ill in the
extreme; and still those words of my father were ringing in my ears, ’My
curse shall be upon you.’  I had long lived in abundance, and squandered
away pounds upon pounds; now I was to know by experience what it is to
be in want.  In this pitiable condition, having no means of obtaining a
lodging,  I crept under a boat hauled up upon the beach for the night,
and obtained a few hours’ forgetfulness of my misery.

"When I awoke, I felt very wretched and low-spirited; but remembering
that this was Sunday, I determined to go to church again and listen to
another sermon, hoping to hear something there that might afford me some
comfort.  My hope was not in vain.  The minister spoke most feelingly of
the love of God, and of the care which He takes of all His creatures.
His text, and the explanation he gave of it, seemed so exactly suited to
my own case, that I almost thought the preacher must have known my
circumstances, and chosen it expressly for my benefit.  I was much
affected, and on my return I wrote on a sheet of paper (which I have
ever since carefully preserved), the following passages, which seemed
peculiarly applicable to my own case.  The text was from St. Matthew vi.
26, ’Behold the fowls of the air.’—’Yes, consider them attentively, for
even they can teach us a lesson.  How beautiful they are! how lively and
active in all their motions! They of all created things seem specially
adapted to give delight to the eye of man by their brilliant plumage and
graceful evolutions, and to charm his ears by their melodious songs.
Their homes are in the tops of the highest trees; they wing their course
far up above our heads, and indeed seem to belong more to heaven than to
earth.

"’Let us consider now what we are told about them in the text.  "They
sow not, neither do they reap."  They are, in fact, utterly ignorant of
the fact that an ear of corn sown carefully in the ground would in due
season bring forth sixty or a hundred-fold. They see the berries and the
corn, about the growth of which they have never troubled themselves, and
there they find enough for their daily wants.  Their free and joyous
spirit seems to have no care for the future; they never "gather into
barns."  How many animals are otherwise!  Look at the squirrel with his
hoard of nuts, the bees with their rich provision of honey, the careful
ants, and many others, whose foresight teaches them to provide against
the season of scarcity.  These, too, are all the creatures of God, and
His "tender mercy is over all His works;" but how different is their
life from that of the birds!  Singing and rejoicing seems the sole end
and aim of their life. Their songs, and all their joyous motions in the
air, are like a perpetual hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God, by
whose providence they are sustained.  "Your heavenly Father feedeth
them."  Is He indeed the Father of the ravens?  Is He indeed the Father
of the sparrows?  Only inasmuch as He is their Creator, and the supplier
of their wants.  But to you, my friends—to you He is more than this: to
you indeed He is a Father—the true and loving Father of all who hear His
words, and "remember His commandments to do them."  Oh, let us not
forget all His benefits; let us remember that from Him alone we have all
the blessings we enjoy, all blessings both of body and soul. But, above
all, let us thank Him for the unspeakable gift of His dear Son, Jesus
Christ, for our redemption, and of His Holy Spirit for the renewal of
our hearts.

"’And oh! as we think over all His benefits, as did David when he penned
the 103d Psalm, must not all that is within us bless His holy name?  And
whatever His providence may send us, whether wealth or poverty, sickness
or health, let us look up to Him with thankfulness for His mercy, and
say, "Doubtless Thou art our Father."

"’Behold the fowls of the air;’ their work, indeed, seems to be only
singing and rejoicing; but what is yours?  "Are ye not much better than
they?"  You, who are children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with
Christ, who are strangers and pilgrims in this world of sorrow and
suffering, but whose home is in heaven; you, for whom God hath prepared
an eternal mansion in the kingdom of heaven, to which, indeed, you shall
one day go to enjoy bliss unspeakable and full of glory, if only while
here below, you walk as children of the light, and trust in that great
salvation which Christ accomplished for you, by His life and by His
death,—"Are ye not indeed much better than they?"’

Here Willie interrupted the captain’s story by asking, "Why, then, are
we taught in the fable to blame the careless and improvident grasshopper
for not laying up a store for the winter, when the birds are praised for
living without troubling themselves about the future?  I can’t quite
understand this."

His father answered him: "All animals, my dear boy, follow the instinct
which God has implanted in them; it is not for us to blame them or to
praise them.  But, at the same time, they may be used as examples to us,
so far as we find in each anything good, loveable, or useful: and one
and all may be employed to illustrate the characters of different men.
From the ant, for instance, the idle may learn to work, and the careless
to save.  Do you remember who says, ’Go to the ant, thou sluggard,
consider her ways and be wise?’  So, on the other hand, from the birds
the covetous and over-anxious may learn that it is possible to live,
however scanty our store may be, if we only have faith in our heavenly
Father’s care.  It is wrong to be too anxious and troubled about the
things of this world, while, at the same time, we must avoid falling
into the opposite error of carelessness, idleness, and improvidence."
Then, turning to the captain, he said, "Excuse our interrupting you, my
dear friend; pray continue your story."

The captain then resumed his narrative in these words:—"The pastor’s
sermon seemed to console me very much, and gave me fresh courage, and I
thought to myself—’I am, it is true, a stranger in this large city,
without money or friends, but there is One above who knows my pitiable
condition; His eye is upon me, and if it seem good to Him, He can easily
feed me this one day at least, as He feeds ’the young ravens who cry
unto Him.’  Soon after leaving the church, I noticed a young man, whose
features seemed well known to me, reading the Latin inscription on the
monument to Erasmus, which stands in the middle of the market-place. For
some minutes, I could not remember clearly who he was, or where I had
met him before, but all of a sudden I recognised him as an old
fellow-student at the University of Giessen; and stepping up to him, I
held out my hand, saying, ’Korbec, is it you?’  ’That is my name,’ said
he, staring at me, ’but I can’t say I recollect you.’  I then remembered
that, what with my sailor’s dress, my famished appearance, and my
bronzed and weather-beaten features, it was scarcely likely that any of
my old companions would know me at first sight.  I soon told him who I
was, and he recollected me at once and shook me heartily by the hand.

"I had no need to tell him I was hungry; my appearance sufficiently
showed that, and he considerately spared me the shame and pain of asking
him for relief, by taking me to an inn close by.  Here a good dinner was
quickly provided for me, and I need scarcely say I ate with the ravenous
appetite of an almost starving man.  As soon as I had satisfied my
hunger, I told him some of my adventures.  He saw at once that I was in
need of further help, but as he was just about to join a ship to which
he had been appointed surgeon, he had need of all his money, and was
only able to give me a few shillings.  These I accepted with gratitude,
and was very glad to be in a position to pay for a night’s lodging.
Thus God, who ’filleth all things living with plenteousness,’ supplied
me with the necessaries of life, as soon as I began to trust to His
care; even before I had learned truly to know Him, He dealt with me as
though I were one of His faithful children.  Oh that I had been able to
recognise this love to me!  But as soon as I found my distress relieved,
I thought no more of His love who had helped me, and very soon fell
again into my former state of indifference.

"The money my friend had given me was almost all gone, when on the
following Wednesday a letter reached me, not indeed from my father, but
from one of my uncles, who told me that my father was dead, and that
what little property he left had been barely sufficient to pay off my
university debts.  The letter also contained an order for five pounds,
which my uncle sent me, without, however, telling me whether I was
expected to return home, or whether I was left free to continue my
wandering life.  On reading the sad news of my father’s death, I fell
into a chair, and covered my face with my hands.  I seemed again to hear
those terrible words, ’My curse shall be upon you,’ and I was for a long
time unable to utter a word, or to shed a single tear.  At length,
however, my grief found vent, and I passed the greater part of the night
in bitter and passionate weeping.

"When the day broke, my troubles began again, and the future now looked
to me blacker than ever.  What was I to do? Whither should I direct my
steps? Whatever I undertake, I thought, I can never escape the terrible
curse which I have brought upon myself by my disobedience. My father is
dead, and it is now too late to obtain his forgiveness!  Oh, what would
I have given to have seen him alive once more!  I would have thrown
myself at his feet, and on my knees have sought his pardon for my
wickedness, until he exchanged his curse for a blessing.  But now, alas!
it is too late—too late!

"Reproaching myself thus, I at last made up my mind that it would be
useless now to return to my old home, and that the only course open to
me was to go to sea again, and I determined to go and offer myself as a
sailor on board the ship in which I had come over.  The captain received
me very kindly, and engaged me as their mate, promising, at the same
time, to teach me something of navigation.  We soon set sail, and before
we had been very long at sea, the second mate, who had been drinking too
much, fell overboard.  It was dark at the time, and there was a heavy
sea on, and though the boats were lowered, no traces of him were
discovered.  As I had in that short time paid great attention to my
duties, and to the kind instructions of the captain, I was promoted to
his place.  The next voyage I was made first mate, and some years later
I became captain of a ship bound for Peru, and continued in that
capacity for about ten years.  During this time, I had a good
opportunity for making private speculations, which proved so successful,
that at the end of the ten years I was able to buy a ship of my own.

"While I was thus busily engaged, I had little time to think of my
father, and his last letter to me; and so long as I continued in
prosperity, I neglected prayer altogether. Yet I passed before all the
world for an honest man, and, judged only by my outward acts, no one
would have doubted that I was a God-fearing one."



                            *CHAPTER VIII.*


His Marriage—The Portrait—His Terror—His Good Fortune Deserts him—Heavy
Losses—The Beggar—Recognises an Old Enemy—His Two Children are
Drowned—His Wife Dies—Is Bankrupt—In Prison—The English Clergyman—Is
Brought to Repentance—Is Set Free—The Fisherman and Basketmaker.


    "God moves in a mysterious way,
      His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea,
      And rides upon the storm.

    "Deep in unfathomable mines
      Of never-failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs,
      And works His sovereign will

    "Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
      But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning Providence
      He hides a smiling face."
        —COWPER.


"About this time, too, I had got married, being then about thirty-five
years of age. This was at Liverpool, and after the ceremony was over I
called at the clergyman’s house to get a certificate.  While he was
writing it out for me, I looked round the room, and saw hanging on the
wall that very portrait which you see there over the looking-glass.  I
started back with astonishment, and began trembling violently, so much
so, indeed, that I was obliged to support myself by holding on to the
table.  The clergyman asked me what was the matter.  ’Oh, nothing,
nothing at all, it is only an attack of giddiness,’ said I, with my eyes
still riveted on the portrait.  I seemed to see my father alive before
me, with his eyes fixed upon me in anger; and in my agitation I even
fancied I saw the lips of the picture move, and thought I again heard
those terrible words, ’My curse shall be upon you, and follow you
always!’  ’No, no,’ I cried aloud, being unable to overcome my terror,
’Oh, do not, do not curse me!’  The clergyman, filled with astonishment,
asked me the cause of so strange an exclamation.  I confessed that it
was the portrait of my father, and my meeting with it so unexpectedly,
which had produced so strong an impression upon me.

"Upon this he took down the picture and showed me, by the name on the
back, that I was mistaken in thinking it was my father’s portrait, it
being that of an English clergyman who had been dead for some years, so
that the resemblance was quite accidental. He spoke also very kindly to
me about the words I had used, and gradually led me to tell him the
story of my disobedience and my father’s anger, and took much pains to
convince me that my father’s curse could not exercise any unfavourable
influence upon me, if I had truly repented of those sins which provoked
him to utter it, and if, as a proof of my sincerity, I were now living a
different life.  All his arguments, however, failed to quiet my
conscience, and I returned to my house much troubled in mind.

"Shortly after this I set out for another voyage, but my late good
fortune seemed to have deserted me.  We met with very rough weather
before we had been a month at sea, and in order to save the ship I was
obliged to order a great part of the cargo to be thrown overboard, so
that when at length we arrived at our destination I found I had lost
several hundred pounds on the voyage.  The homeward voyage was equally
unfortunate, and when, after nearly twelve months’ absence, I reached my
home and found my dear wife ready to welcome me with our baby in her
arms, the joy of such a meeting was marred by the fear that the
punishment of my disobedience might fall on the heads of those I loved.

"I have little to tell you about the next six or seven years, during
which time my bad fortune still followed me, and the state of my affairs
grew gradually worse and worse.  One thing, however, I must relate. I
had been out one afternoon for a walk, and on returning, just at dusk, I
found a poor miserable looking beggar, with a wooden leg, sitting on the
grass near our cottage door, eating some food which my wife had just
given him.  I said a few words to him when I came up, and as some of his
answers interested me, I asked him to stop a little while and give me an
account of himself.

[Illustration: "I found a poor miserable-looking beggar with a wooden
log."]

"He began, ’I was born at Amsterdam’—and in a moment I recollected him.
He was no other than the very crimp whom I met on the quay when I first
went to that city, and who had decoyed me into his house, where I was
robbed and sent to sea as I have told you.  I said nothing, however, but
let him go on with his story.  He told me that he had been once in
business, but had met with so many losses that at length he was obliged
to go as a sailor in the English navy, and that during an engagement he
had received a bullet in his left leg, which had to be amputated, so
that when he received his discharge he was compelled to get his living
as he could.  While he was speaking, a thousand recollections crowded on
my mind, and when he had finished I fixed my eyes sternly on his face
and said, ’Do you remember me?’  He said he had no recollection of ever
having seen me before, Thereupon I told him the story of our meeting on
the quay at Amsterdam, and reminded him of what had followed his
treachery.  As I spoke somewhat loudly and angrily, he became quite pale
with terror, and did not attempt to deny that he was the man who had
used me so cruelly; in fact he seemed quite paralysed with fright.
’Don’t be afraid of me,’ I said, ’God Himself has punished your
wickedness, and I will not revenge myself on you.  Only take yourself
off from hence, and never let me see you again.’"

The captain here broke off to ask the children whether they thought he
had done well in acting thus?

"Oh yes, certainly," said Mary, "you were surely right not to be
revenged upon him."

"That is true," said Willie, "but the Bible says we are to love our
enemies, and I think, sir, if you had loved this man, you would not have
driven him away from you."

"Quite true, my boy," rejoined the captain, "and if I had followed the
example of our blessed Saviour, I should have tried to help this man out
of his troubles, and endeavoured to obtain some influence over his
heart, and so have been really useful to him by leading him to see how
wicked he had been.  But I could not do it, I did not even know my own
heart, and I thought I was doing a wonderfully good action in not
punishing him for his cruelty and inhumanity towards me.  I lived many
years longer holding this good opinion of myself until God gave me the
grace of humility, and brought me by means of more troubles to know the
wickedness of my own heart.

"As my affairs became gradually more and more embarrassed I was often
very much troubled on account of my children, of whom I had now two, for
during these few years all my savings had been expended, and I could not
see my way clearly to provide for their education as they grew up.
Their promising dispositions were, however, a source of great
satisfaction to me, and I comforted myself with the hope that things
might yet soon improve with me, and that one or two successful voyages
would place me in a position to provide for all their wants.

"With my mind thus filled with mingled feelings of joy at my safe return
to my family, and anxiety for the future welfare of those dependent upon
me, I returned one day late in the summer of 17—, after a three months’
voyage.  I had written to my wife a few days before to tell her when I
should be at home, but having got into port a day earlier than I had
reckoned upon, I anticipated giving my wife and children a pleasant
surprise by my unexpected arrival.  Even at this distance of time I can
scarcely trust myself to speak of the terrible disappointment that
awaited me.  On entering my cottage, instead of being greeted with the
affectionate caresses of my dear wife and children, I was surprised to
see that the only person in the room was a good woman, who lived in a
neighbouring cottage.  As she looked up and recognised me on my
entrance, something in her manner made me fear that all was not well
with my family.  I eagerly inquired after them, and the woman, who was
an old friend of my wife’s, burst into tears, and in a few words told me
the extent of the misfortune that had befallen me.  My two children, for
whose welfare I had been so anxious, were both dead, and my poor wife
was confined to her bed by illness.  I learned afterwards, for I was so
overcome by the news of this awful calamity that I could not listen to
the particulars just then, that the two little ones had gone down to the
seashore to play with a little companion about a fortnight before I
reached home; the last time they were seen alive they were amusing
themselves in one of the fisherman’s boats which was lying upon the
beach.  By some means or other they must have got the boat afloat, and
so been carried out to sea unobserved.  The night proved very stormy,
and the next day the boat was seen floating, bottom upwards, out at sea,
and during the day their dead bodies were washed ashore. The anxiety of
my poor wife during that awful night, and her great agony of sorrow on
learning their unhappy fate, had preyed so much upon her health that it
was scarcely expected that she would ever recover from the shock.  I
pass over the events of the next few days—it would be too much for me,
even now, to enter into any detail of the meeting between my wife and
myself; nor can I, without tears, think of her as I watched her day by
day growing weaker and weaker.  Within a fortnight after my arrival she,
too, followed our children to the grave, and I was left alone in the
world.

"This surely should have been enough to soften even a heart of stone
like mine.  It was not so, however.  I only hardened my heart more and
more.  ’This is the punishment of my disobedience,’ I thought to myself.
The concluding words of my father’s letter echoed again and again in my
ears, and instead of producing a good effect upon me, only made me more
obstinate in refusing to listen to the gentle appeals of my Saviour. If
I did not remember, but too well, my feelings at this time of my life, I
could not now believe that any poor wretched human being could carry his
pride of heart and stubborn rebellion against God to such a pitch as I
did.

"In order to divert my mind from the harassing reflections which beset
me, and made the solitude of my once happy home intolerable, instead of
bowing to God’s holy will, and recognising, as I can now do, the fact
that all that had befallen me was sent in love to my soul by a heavenly
Father, who is too wise to err, and too good to be unkind, I sought
relief, where no one ever yet found it, by giving myself up to those bad
habits which had been the cause of all my misery.  I spent my whole time
in the society of wicked and thoughtless men, and turned a deaf ear to
the remonstrances of all my real friends.  There were many who expressed
the deepest sympathy with me in my sorrows, and made many vain efforts
to recall me to a sense of my duty.  But I disregarded all their kind
exhortations, and always answered sullenly, ’What is the use of my
trying to do right?  I am under a curse.’

"Such a state of things could not last long.  For the last year or two,
my income had been insufficient to support my family, and I had
unavoidably contracted some few debts, and now my extravagances rapidly
increased them.  My creditors soon began to importune me for payment,
and after putting them off from time to time, I was obliged to tell them
that I was utterly and hopelessly bankrupt.  I was then brought before
the court, and my ship, my house, and all my goods, were ordered to be
sold, and these being insufficient to meet the claims against me, I was
thrown into prison.  Then, indeed, my cup of sorrow was full.  Again I
heard my father’s malediction sounding in my ears, and this time without
being able to drown the painful memory in the riotous pleasures of the
world.  And though, in my former troubles, I had not shrunk from
upbraiding God’s providence for oppressing an innocent man, as I called
myself, I could not but feel that this new misfortune was the just
consequence of my own folly and extravagance. I was now forced to listen
to the reproaches of a conscience racked with remorse. Nevertheless, I
could not yet resolve to recognise the justice of God.  I obstinately
resisted His appeals, and still remained impenitent.

"I cannot tell what I might have become while in prison, had I been left
altogether to myself.  All men seemed to have forgotten me entirely, but
God had not even then deserted me.  He had pity on me in my extremity,
and by an extraordinary dispensation of His Providence, sent to me that
very clergyman in whose house I had seen the portrait which so resembled
my father.  My first words when I saw him were, ’You see I was right: my
father’s curse is following me, and you see to what a state it has
brought me.’  ’No,’ replied he, ’this is not the effect of your father’s
anger; it is the consequence of the curse of sin.  If you had seriously
turned to God, He whose property is always to have mercy and to forgive
would assuredly have delivered you from that curse, and would have
turned it into a blessing.’

"I refused to listen to these words, and obstinately persisted in saying
that God had doomed me to misery, and that nothing could alter my fate.
’Take care,’ said the clergyman, solemnly, ’that you do not provoke
God’s anger still more by your rash and inconsiderate words.  He has
surely shown you, plainly enough, that to rebel against Him is the act
of none but a madman.  Tell me, have you ever tried to free yourself
from your load of sin?  Have you ever prayed earnestly for God’s help to
deliver you out of your troubles?’  ’No, said I, ’I have never tried.  I
cannot do so! I am suffering beneath the weight of an unjust curse,
while thousands of other men, who are worse than I am, never suffer any
punishment at all, but prosper in all they undertake.’  ’My answer to
that,’ said the good man, ’must be, that you who have studied for the
ministry, as you told me, must know, on the authority of God’s own word,
that one single sin is sufficient for a man’s condemnation; how can you
then dare to call your punishment unjust?  As to your objection that
thousands of men are never punished for their offences in this world,
that can have no weight; for, even if no punishment reaches them here,
they cannot escape at the great Day of Judgment in the world to come.
You ought rather to thank God for the just chastisement you have
received, which is a proof that His pity and His love are not yet wholly
withdrawn from you.  Every misfortune you have undergone is as the voice
of God calling you to serious repentance.  Remember, "whom the Lord
loveth He chasteneth," and beware lest by your obstinacy you bring down
His wrath upon your head.’

"I could not answer such arguments as these; but though my reason was
convinced, my heart was untouched.  On leaving me, the clergyman gave me
a New Testament, and persuaded me to read it with attention, and
particularly recommended me to meditate prayerfully upon the Epistle to
the Romans.  He then left me, and promised to come and see me again.
When he had gone, I thought to myself there could be very little good in
my reading the book he had left me. In my university studies, I had read
it so often, that I knew pretty well what it contained, and I did not
expect to find anything in it that I did not know before.  Accordingly,
I left it unopened for some days, and it was only to divert my
melancholy thoughts that I at length, for want of anything else to read,
opened the Testament, and began to read the Epistle to the Romans.  ’Is
this indeed the same epistle that I used to read at the university?’ was
my first thought, when I had read a few verses.  It was indeed the same,
word for word; there was no alteration in the book, but since I last
read it, I myself had undergone a change.  Since that time, I had passed
through the rough school of adversity, and the experience of years had
shown me more than I then knew of the corruption of my own heart.  When
I read the words, ’That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world
may become guilty before God’ (Rom. iii. 19), I was filled with terror,
and to this was added an overwhelming sense of the infinite majesty of
God, whose goodness and justice I had so lately dared to question.  Then
I came to the passage, ’For God hath concluded them all in unbelief,
that He might have mercy upon all, O the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His
ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who
hath been His counsellor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall
be recompensed unto him again?  For of Him, and through Him, and to Him
are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.’  (Rom. xi. 32-36.)
Upon this, a ray of hope dawned upon my heart, and I cried out with
emotion, ’O God, since Thou hast mercy on all who come to Thee, have
mercy also on me.’

"Little by little my heart was softened, and tears of true penitence
streamed from my eyes.  I was weeping when the clergyman came to see me
again.  ’God be praised,’ said he, as he entered, seeing the tears in my
eyes, ’God be praised, for He has had compassion on your soul.’  I could
not answer, for my heart was too full for words.  He then knelt down
with me, and prayed with much earnestness, that God would carry on the
good work He had begun in me; and as he prayed, I was deeply affected,
and at last I too called aloud to God for mercy.  This cry was not in
vain; the peace of God descended upon my heart, and I was enabled to
believe in the possibility of obtaining pardon for all my sins, through
faith in a crucified Saviour.  After this, I found myself in a much
happier frame of mind.  I acknowledged that I had been a miserable
sinner, and that but for the infinite mercy of the Most High, I must
have perished in my sins; I saw now that all my misfortunes had been in
reality a token of the loving-kindness and tender mercy of Him, who
’willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be
converted and live.’  The Word of God, which for so many years had been
a dead letter to me, had now become a source of sweet and life-giving
nourishment to my soul; and I spent the greater part of my time while in
prison in reading and meditating upon the precious volume.  The
clergyman offered to lend me some other books; but I declined them all,
telling him that the Book of books was enough for me.

"After this worthy man had thus attended to my spiritual wants, he
busied himself in endeavouring to set me free from my unhappy
confinement.  By his exertions, and those of several friends, whom he
had interested in my behalf, it was not long before I was set at
liberty.  I was glad to be once more a free man, but could not regret my
imprisonment, inasmuch as it was in the prison that I had been led to a
knowledge of Him ’whose service is perfect freedom.’  The kind friends
who had interested themselves in me provided me with a small sum of
money, with which I took a little cottage by the sea-side; and having
bought a small boat and some nets, I was able to get my living all
through the summer as a fisherman, and supported myself during the
winter by making baskets, which I sold in the neighbouring town.  I
begged my good friend the clergyman to give me the portrait so like my
father, which had caused me such terror when I first saw it in his
house, but which I could now look upon without distress of mind, knowing
that I had obtained grace and pardon from my heavenly Father.  On
receiving it, I hung it up over the fireplace in my humble cottage."



                             *CHAPTER IX.*


Accepts the Command of a Ship—The Pirates—The Fight—Victory—Meets an Old
Friend—His Friend’s Adventures.


    "Come, peace of mind, delightful guest!
    Return and make thy downy nest
      Once more in this sad heart:
    Nor riches I, nor power pursue,
    Nor hold forbidden joys in view;
      We therefore need not part."
        —COWPER.


"The blessing of Heaven seemed to rest upon my humble employment, and I
was not only able to earn sufficient to keep myself, but was able to lay
by a little money from time to time, so that within two years I saved
sufficient to repay my kind friends the money they had lent me to start
with.  Among those who had interested themselves in my welfare was a
rich merchant who was the owner of several ships; and on the death of
the captain of one of these, he wrote to me and offered me the command
of it.  I did not at all like the idea of leaving my peaceful cottage,
where for nearly two years I had lived a very happy and contented life,
studying the Word of God, and rejoicing in His mercy, but at the same
time I did not think it my duty positively to decline such an offer as
this without careful consideration.

"In this state of uncertainty, I resolved to consult my good friend the
clergyman, from whom I had no secrets, and who had already rendered me
so many services.  I did so, and his first question was, whether I had
really considered the motives which led me to think of accepting the
offer, and if I was quite sure that I was not influenced by the desire
of riches, or any contempt for my present humble lot.  I replied truly
that no such idea had ever entered my head.  I was quite contented and
happy in my present employment, but I hoped to be able, by means of an
increased income, to pay all my old creditors in full, and perhaps lay
by some provision for my old age.  Satisfied with this explanation, he
advised me by all means to accept the appointment, and added that he
himself had induced the merchant to make me the offer.  Having now no
longer any doubt as to which was the right course to pursue, I let my
cottage to a fisherman, and taking the portrait of my father with me, I
set sail, full of confidence in God’s protecting care.

"I was now in the Mediterranean trade, and had to call at several ports
with merchandise, and to take in goods for England.  On our return, we
left the island of Corsica in company with several other vessels.  My
ship, however, being a very fast sailor, we were not long before we left
them all behind. The weather was fair, and our voyage had been very
successful, so that I was in good spirits.  Suddenly the sailor at the
masthead saw a suspicious-looking craft in the distance.  I examined her
attentively with the glass, and at length became convinced that we were
chased by pirates.  I felt at once that escape was impossible, and
resistance seemed almost hopeless, as we numbered in all only seventeen
hands and six passengers.  Nevertheless, I resolved to fight to the
death rather than suffer myself and all on board to be earned away into
slavery. I hastily ordered the decks to be cleared, and having armed all
the crew and the passengers, I had our six cannons loaded, and waited,
with a beating heart, for our deadly enemy to overtake us.  The pirates
evidently did not expect any resistance on our part, hoping, no doubt,
that we should yield without striking a blow.  They had made no
preparations for action until they saw that we were prepared for an
engagement.  We heard afterwards, too, that their vessel had received a
good deal of damage in an action the day before with an English cruiser,
in which several of their crew had been killed; indeed, their vessel
only escaped by her wonderfully fast sailing.  As soon as they got
within range, I fired one of the guns, which created great confusion on
board our enemy, having, as I afterwards learned, killed their captain
and two of the crew.  I kept up a brisk cannonade for some time, to
which they replied very feebly, and without doing us any serious injury.
In a short time they ceased firing, and I perceived that they were
endeavouring to retreat, but had much difficulty in doing so in
consequence of the damage our firing had caused.  Seeing this, I crowded
all sail in chase, and we soon came up with them, when they threw down
their arms and suffered us to board them without any resistance.  We
took about fifteen prisoners, whom I landed at Gibraltar, and delivered
over to the authorities there to take their trial for piracy.  As for
the ship, we found it needed but little repair to render it sea-worthy,
though the mainmast was shot away, and the rest of the rigging had
suffered considerably; so, after doing what was absolutely necessary to
keep her afloat, I brought both ship and cargo with me to England.

"In the hold we found several prisoners whom the pirates had taken, and
whose joy at their happy deliverance was unbounded. Among these, to my
great surprise and delight, I recognised my old fellow-student the
surgeon, whom I met at Rotterdam, and whose kindness to me, in my
distress, had saved me from dying of starvation.  His astonishment and
joy at such an unexpected meeting was as great as mine, and was
increased on finding so great a change for the better in my
circumstances.  I told him my history since our last meeting, and he in
return told me his, which was almost as full of adventures as my own.
He had, he said, been wrecked on a desert island in his last voyage, his
ship and all the crew, except himself and two sailors, being lost.
Having built themselves a hut, they supported themselves for some months
on some edible roots and berries, which his knowledge of botany enabled
him to discover on the island, and their fare was occasionally improved
by the addition of a bird or animal, which they managed to shoot with
roughly-made bows and arrows.  During this time they were busily engaged
in constructing a boat, in which they hoped to be able to reach the
mainland, which was just visible in very clear weather.  After more than
one failure they succeeded in making their boat water-tight, and set out
with as large a store of provisions and water as their frail craft could
carry with safety.  Having chosen a calm day for their attempt, and the
wind being in their favour, they reached the land without any accident,
but found themselves scarcely in a better position, if so good, as when
they were on the island.  Before they were wrecked the ship had been
driven entirely out of her course by a terrific gale, and they were now
utterly ignorant as to their whereabouts.  They had not been many days
on shore before a band of armed savages discovered them, and as they
were not in a position to offer any resistance, they were taken
prisoners, and led away some distance inland.  Here they suffered many
hardships, and were in constant fear of being put to death by their
cruel captors.  Several months passed away in this manner, during which
they were compelled to do the most laborious work, and were very
scantily fed, and were often besides beaten and threatened with death,
until at length they effected their escape, made their way to the
sea-shore, and were fortunate enough to be rescued by a homeward-bound
Austrian merchantman, which had stood in near the coast for the purpose
of obtaining fresh water.  While on their voyage up the Mediterranean,
(the destination of the vessel being Trieste), they were captured by the
pirate from whom I had so providentially rescued them.  When we reached
England my friend seemed so much to dread going to sea again that I
easily persuaded him to accept from me a sum of money sufficient to
enable him to return to his own country, where I have since heard he set
up as doctor in his native town, and died a short time ago, beloved and
respected by all who knew him."



                              *CHAPTER X.*


Makes Several Successful Voyages—Becomes Rich—Buys a Ship of his
Own—Makes his Fortune—Retires from the Sea—Returns to his Native
Village.


      ——"This active course,
    Chosen in youth, through manhood he pursued,
    Till due provision for his modest wants
    Had been obtained; and, thereupon, resolved
    To pass the remnant of his days untasked
    With needless services, from hardship free,
    His calling laid aside, he lived at ease."
        —WORDSWORTH.


"The successful issue of my voyage not only gained me the entire
confidence of the owner of my ship, but also put me in possession of a
considerable sum of money, with which I was able, to my very great
satisfaction, to meet all claims against me, besides supplying my
friend’s need, as I told you.  This, however, left me without anything
to live on, so that I was obliged to undertake a second voyage, in spite
of a certain uneasy feeling of which I could not get rid.

"Since the time when in the prison I had received the assurance of the
pardon of all my sins, I had been, it is true, quite satisfied as to the
safety of my soul, knowing that God having received me into His fold,
whatever might befall me, ’all things must work together for good.’
Still I could not altogether overcome my apprehension at the thought of
my father’s curse, and of its influence on my temporal happiness and
well-being.  I felt that I was justified in this when I thought of the
fifth commandment, ’Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may
be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’  He who
honours, and consequently obeys his parents, I thought, has a promise
here of a long and happy life, not indeed of eternal life, to gain which
he must honour God and keep His commandments, that is, he must be
converted and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, for ’this is His
commandment.’  If he neglects this, he may indeed lead a long and
prosperous life here, and yet lose his life hereafter.  He who, on the
contrary, disobeys his parents cannot be happy and successful in his
earthly career, although he may, by sincere repentance and faith, obtain
forgiveness of God, for his Saviour’s sake, and everlasting happiness.
If he has brought down upon himself his father’s curse, even this
forgiveness will not alter its effects in this world, although in the
hands of the Almighty the very sorrows and sufferings it brings upon him
may become the means of securing his eternal salvation.

"Thus convinced as I was that for His dear Son’s sake God had forgiven
all my sins, I still remembered with alarm those words in my father’s
letter, ’My curse shall be upon you, and follow you always;’ and this
portrait, which I had always hanging up in my cabin, helped to keep me
in mind of them.

"I was, therefore, still a prey to great uneasiness, and even good
fortune failed to bring peace to my mind.  In all my prosperity I
believed myself to be on the brink of some fresh disaster, having proved
by experience the instability of earthly things; and when I was
surrounded by misfortunes, I of course assigned them to the cause
uppermost in my mind.  My fears, however, were not realised during a
second and third voyage which I made for my employer. On the contrary,
they were so successful in a pecuniary point of view, that I was able to
buy a ship of my own, which I freighted entirely on my own account.  My
trading this time succeeded beyond my utmost expectations, and on
returning to England, I found myself in possession of a considerable
fortune.

"I was now nearly sixty years of age, and was beginning to feel a
wandering life almost too much for me.  Accordingly I resolved to retire
from active work, and return to my native land, to devote my few
remaining years to preparation for life eternal and the glory of Him who
has led me in such a wonderful manner to Himself.

"Although I have passed through so much during my forty years’ wandering
about the world, have endured so many troubles, and received so many
undeserved blessings, and although God has shown Himself so good and
gracious, slow to anger and of great kindness towards me, and though,
during these last few years, especially, His blessing has rested on all
I have undertaken, still even yet I start with a secret terror at the
sight of that portrait which brings before my mind so clearly the father
whom I disobeyed.  The recollection of his curse is never absent.
Sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up, trembling, expecting the
house is about to fall and crush me, and it is only by earnest prayer
that I can recover my self-possession."

Here the captain ended his history, the recital of which had deeply
interested each and all of his hearers.  The worthy pastor did his
utmost to convince him that his fears were only a vain superstition; but
the captain shook his head.  His kind counsellor saw that it would be
unwise to argue the point, and left him with thanks for his graphic
narrative, resolving to pray earnestly that God would remove from him
the cloud of self-reproach, and enable him to spend the remainder of his
days in the brightness of Christian hope.



                             *CHAPTER XI.*


                     The Curse Revoked—Conclusion.


    "Commend the past to God, with all its irrevocable harm,
    Humbly, but in cheerful trust, and banish vain regrets;
    Come to Him, continually come, casting all the present at His
            feet,
    Boldly, but in prayerful love, and fling off selfish cares;
    Commit the future to His will—the viewless, fated future;
    Zealously go forward with integrity, and God will bless thy
            faith."
      —TUPPER.


A year had passed away since the captain had taken up his abode in the
"Forester’s House," as it was still called, in the course of which the
intimacy between him and his good friend the pastor had been confirmed
by many mutual acts of kindness.  The captain was a great favourite with
the children, and a visit to his house was looked upon by them as the
greatest possible treat, and many were the interesting and instructive
stories which he related for their amusement. His long wanderings in
almost every part of the world furnished him with an inexhaustible
supply of anecdotes and narratives of foreign customs, which the
children could never grow tired of listening to.  His friends, however,
could not help noticing that he had not yet shaken off his fear that
some fresh misfortune was in store for him, in consequence of his
youthful disobedience and the curse which his father had pronounced upon
him.  This he believed, being unrevoked, would, as his father had
written, "follow him always."

Thus this one great sin of disobeying his father’s commands had
embittered his happiness for more than forty years, not only when he was
suffering what he justly believed to be the consequences of his
wickedness, but long after he had earnestly repented of all his sins,
and was living a peaceful, godly life.

Oh that all the boys and girls who may read this story would think over
those words of St Paul, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for
this is right.  Honour thy father and mother, which is the first
commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest
live long on the earth," (Eph. vi. 1-3), and learn from this narrative
that every act of wilful disobedience to a parent’s commands is a sin
against God, which He is sure to punish.

The good pastor’s prayers that the captain might be relieved from his
anxiety of mind were not in vain, and he himself was destined to be the
happy instrument in God’s hands of removing the burden that had so long
oppressed his friend.  It happened one day when the pastor was writing
in his study, that a man called upon him for the purpose of obtaining a
certificate of his birth, which was necessary to enable him to receive a
legacy to which he was entitled.  The pastor inquired his name.

"My name is John Lobert," said the man, "and I have been living at
Liverpool for many years; but I now intend to settle down here in my
native village for the remainder of my life."

"When you were at Liverpool, did you ever meet Captain Buchman?" asked
the pastor.

"No," said Lobert, "I never met him there; but I used to know him very
well as a boy; in fact, he was an old schoolfellow of mine.  I was
astonished when I arrived at Dornbach last night to hear that he was
living here.  I shall be delighted to see him again."

"The captain, I am sure, will be pleased to see one of his old
companions," replied the pastor, "but wait a moment, and I will give you
your certificate.  In what year were you born?"

"In 17—," answered Lobert.

"Ah, that was in my predecessor’s time," said the pastor; "I must look
through the old register, which ends at his death in 17—," and unlocking
a large box which stood in the corner of the room, he took out the book,
and soon found the entry of Lobert’s birth. Upon the same page he
noticed the name of his friend the captain, and underneath it was
fastened a sheet of paper.  The pastor unfolded this, and glancing over
its contents, cried out with delight, "Oh, what a blessed discovery this
is for my dear friend the captain!"  He folded up the paper, and putting
it in his pocket, wrote out the required certificate for Lobert, who
took his leave, promising to call and see the captain on the next day.

As soon as he had gone, the pastor ran to the captain’s house.

"Good news, my friend," said he as soon as they met "I am the bearer of
happy tidings for you.  Here, read this paper."

The captain’s eyes filled with tears as he read, and falling on his
knees, he gave thanks to God for the mercy He had shown him, He then
rose from his knees and read aloud the important document, which was as
follows:—

"I earnestly beg any one into whose hands this paper may fall, to tell
my son, Francis Buchman (if he be still living), that his old father
before his death has forgiven his disobedience, and revoked the curse
which he pronounced upon him in a moment of anger. I pray also that God
will forgive him, and turn him from the error of his ways.

"G. BUCHMAN, Pastor.

"Dornbach, 15th June, 17—."


The captain was quite an altered man now.  The anxiety that had weighed
upon his mind for so many years being removed, his life glided on
smoothly and peacefully. The past only seemed to him as a terrible
dream, from which he had now awakened.

Lobert duly called upon the captain on the following day, and was
received with much joy, which was increased when he found that he too
had chosen that better part which shall never be taken away.  He soon
became intimate with the pastor’s family, and the three friends enjoyed
each other’s society for many happy years.  The captain devoted the
greater part of his time and his fortune to relieving the wants of the
poor in the neighbourhood, and was long remembered by the inhabitants of
the little village of Dornbach as the "Good Captain Buchman."



                                THE END



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