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Title: Captain John's Adventures - or, The Story of a Fatherless Boy
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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CAPTAIN JOHN’S ADVENTURES

[Illustration]



    CAPTAIN JOHN’S ADVENTURES

    OR

    The Story of a Fatherless Boy

    EDINBURGH & LONDON
    OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER



  OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER’S
  SIXPENNY BOOKS
  FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.


    _Captain John’s Adventures._
    _Biddy._ By S. C. P.
    _The Gardener’s Daughter._
    _Jessy Allan, the Lame Girl._
    _The Orphan of Kinloch._
    _Douglas Roy, and other Stories._
    _Tibby._ By S. C. P.
    _Widow Gray._
    _French Bessie._ By S. C. P.
    _Two Gathered Lilies._
    _The Pearl of Forgiveness._
    _The Pearl of Contentment._
    _The Pearl of Peace._
    _The Pearl of Meekness._
    _The Pearl of Faith._
    _The Pearl of Diligence._
    _Little Henry and His Bearer._
    _The Little Forester._
    _The Little Woodman._
    _Waste Not, Want Not._
    _The White Dove._
    _The Bracelets._
    _Paul Cuffee, the Black Hero._
    _Blanche Gamond._
    _Little Blue Mantle._
    _Ways of Wisdom._
    _The Best Work._
    _The Best Warfare._
    _True Heart._
    _Won for the Kingdom._
    _Susy Miller._
    _Susy’s Birthday._
    _Happy Ellen._
    _Kitty Brown._
    _The Best Friend._
    _Red and White Roses._
    _Little Goldenlocks._
    _Nanette’s New Shoes._
    _Katie’s Christmas Lesson._
    _Tom’s Memorable Christmas._
    _The Pearl Necklace._
    _Bess: The Story of a Waif._
    _The Bonnie Jean._
    _The Story of a Cuckoo Clock._
    _Syd’s New Pony._
    _The Witch of the Quarry Hut._
    _Our Father._  By Sarah Gibson.
    _A Little Home-Ruler._
    _Nellie’s First Fruits._
    _Bunny’s Birthday._
    _Di’s Jumbo._ By M. J. M. Logan.
    _Dick: A Missionary Story._
    _How Daisy became a Sunbeam._
    _Marjory’s Story._
    _Jack’s Hymn._ By Elizabeth Olmis.
    _Little Tom Thumb._


MORRISON AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.



CAPTAIN JOHN’S ADVENTURES



CHAPTER I.

THE FISHERMAN’S DWELLING--HOME MADE DESOLATE.


Richard Leddam was a poor man, who obtained a subsistence by toiling
in all weathers in catching fish and oysters, which he sold to persons
whose business it was to supply the city market. The village in which
he lived was exposed on one side to the ocean waves, the other was
washed by the calmer waters of a bay. Here a few families were induced
to dwell, invited by the facilities for procuring fish.

Lonely as the village was, it was not an unpleasant spot; the grounds
were shaded by fine trees, and the constant sea breeze rendered the
atmosphere cool and healthy. On a little indenture of the shore, where
the bay setting in formed a cove, stood the cabin of the fisherman. It
was built of logs, and a sloping shed protected the house from winter
storms and summer suns. Beneath this shelter were kept, when not in
use, the fishing boat and the fishing tackle. Here too the family
assembled in fine weather, and thence the anxious wife sent many a
wishful glance, when expecting her husband’s return.

Their family consisted of two boys, John and Henry, and three daughters.

Here they lived in rude comfort--poor, but not destitute; and when,
after a successful day, the family met in their humble home, from
which they looked out on the sparkling waters, while the father related
his adventures, they might be called happy, as far as exemption from
care could make immortal beings happy.

But of his glorious birthright as an immortal spirit, Richard Leddam
thought not. If he mentioned the name of his Creator, it was only to
profane it. There was no prayer offered to God in that family, and
Sabbaths came and went, not reverenced, almost unheeded. Once, while
at a neighbouring city, where he had gone with a boat load, his little
vessel was visited by a Christian gentleman, who gave him a Bible,
which he brought to his wife; but whether it was prized as it deserved
to be, or whether the fisherman, in his solitary hours upon the sea,
ever turned in repentance to his God and Saviour, none can tell.

One boisterous day in November he left the cove, thinking that the
wind would lull by noon. His wife remembered that when he had gone a
few steps from the door he returned to bid them farewell again, and
placing his hand on John’s head, told him to be good, and help his
mother.

The wind increased through the day, and the tempest was fearful all
night. When the light dawned, the distressed family beheld the boat
floating upwards,--but their only friend they never saw again.

With the assistance of a neighbour the boat was drawn up, and placed
in its usual resting-place in the shed. The children gathered around
it with sorrowful faces, as if it had been their father’s coffin. The
mother looked silently on the helpless little ones; then, leaning her
face on her hand, as she rested on the side of the boat, she wept
piteously. One of the neighbours perceiving a Bible, which lay on a
shelf, took it down and read the eleventh chapter of John. The word of
God soothed the poor widow’s grief; and when they were alone she said
to her son, ‘Read to me those good words again.’ How many sorrowful
hearts have those good words relieved!



CHAPTER II.

THEY MOVE TO THE CITY.


The kind neighbour who loved the Bible, and had read it to the poor
widow, came daily to read more of the ‘good words.’ The clergyman too
came to visit her in her sorrow, and explained to her the words that
had soothed her even while she understood them but imperfectly. Mrs
Leddam felt how sinful she had been in living all her life without a
thought of God, and now in her affliction she turned to Him whom she
had so long forgotten.

The good clergyman spoke to her of Jesus, the Saviour of sinners,
through whom alone we can receive pardon and peace; and the poor widow
prayed to this blessed Saviour as she had never prayed before, and He
heard her and comforted her heart; for He has said, ‘Him that cometh
unto me, I will in no wise cast out.’

As John was too young to manage the boat, it was sold with the nets and
fishing tackle, and the widow with her five children removed to the
neighbouring town, where she hoped to find employment in sewing. She
hired a small house in the outskirts of the town; and there, with her
little flock around her, she felt like a desolate stranger.

How little do those children who are blessed with many comforts know of
the trials of the poor and fatherless!

But the widow had now a source of comfort in her trials. John daily
read some of the ‘good words’ to his mother. They rejoiced in God’s
many promises to the widow and the fatherless, and trusted that He
would provide. The town was situated on the bank of a broad river,
and the widow’s cottage stood not far from the water. Near it stood a
small house, which one would have said had been built by a sailor; and
he would have said rightly, for Captain Sam had made his dwelling as
much like the vessel in which he had spent his best days as he could.
In front of the house was a small porch, shaded by a sail; and here
the old man passed the most of his time, smoking his pipe. The poor
neighbours thought that Captain Sam was a rich man, because he could
afford to do nothing.

Within sight of the captain’s house was a grocer’s shop, where every
morning numbers of poor children came to procure supplies for the day.
Among them the captain observed John and Henry, as having clean faces,
and as being neatly dressed. John’s attention had been attracted by
the captain’s house. He admired the bright colour with which it was
painted, and had conceived a great respect for its happy owner; for
John, like the rest, thought it must be very pleasant to be idle,--a
great mistake, as any one who will try it may soon discover. Hearing
the shopkeeper call him captain, he asked, ‘Is he a real captain, sir?’

‘How do I know, youngster?’ replied the man. ‘You had better ask him
that yourself.’

The next day, observing his mother weeping, John said, ‘Mother, can’t I
get work?’

She laid her hand on his head as she replied, ‘What could you do, my
son?’

‘A heap of things,’ he said earnestly. ‘I can help to row, and mend the
nets.’

‘But we are now far away from the fishing. We are in a strange place,
full of people, where, in the midst of plenty, we are likely to come to
want; for this is the last money I have in the world.’

‘Oh, mother!’ said the terrified boy, ‘will they let us starve? won’t
some of the rich people help you?’

‘I am going in search of work,’ replied his mother. ‘Take care of your
brother and sisters until I return.’

‘May I walk as far as the corner, mother?’

Giving him permission to do so, Mrs Leddam left the house.

Now John had a plan of his own, but he was puzzled to know how to bring
it about. He had often accompanied his father to the vessels in the
bay, and had a strong partiality for sailors. He thought if he could
but make a friend of this rich captain, who lived in the fine house,
how happy he should be. So, after thinking it over, he resolved to see
the captain, and tell him how poor his mother was. Bidding Henry watch
his baby sister, he set out for the corner; but as he walked on he felt
his courage become fainter, until his young heart almost failed.

But we will turn to a new chapter to relate his introduction to the
captain.



CHAPTER III.

JOHN MAKES SOME ACQUAINTANCES.


John had not walked far when he saw a horse galloping down the street:
the people shouted, which only made the horse run the faster; but
just as he reached the corner, John made a spring, and, catching the
rein, in a moment he was on his back. John’s time, when he lived at the
fishing village, had been divided between riding ponies and paddling
boats; but he had never ridden so fine an animal as this,--his skin
shone like satin, and his saddle and bridle were so handsome, that the
little boy concluded he must belong to some very rich captain indeed.

Directly a ragged boy came up to him with ‘Halloo! there, what are you
doing with my horse?’

‘I caught him,’ said John, ‘but I don’t believe he belongs to you;’ so,
touching his side with his heel, the spirited horse set off at full
speed, and did not stop till he reached a handsome house, on the steps
of which stood a gentleman with a whip in his hand, just ready for a
ride. He was pleased to get his horse, and put a shilling in John’s
hand for his trouble.

So large a piece of money astonished the child; his eyes glistened,
and, without knowing it, he spoke his thoughts: ‘Oh, mother, you need
not have cried so!’

The gentleman was preparing to mount his horse, but hearing these
words, he said, ‘What was the matter with your mother?’

‘She had no money to buy us bread, sir.’

‘Has she no work to do?’

‘We have just come here, and mother does not know any one.’

‘Why did you come here, boy?’

John thought this was a foolish question, but he answered, ‘Father was
drowned, and mother couldn’t fish, and she was afraid we should starve
in the village; but I am more afraid of it here.’

The gentleman smiled and said, ‘I do not think there is much danger of
that.’

But John looked in his face with a serious countenance, and said,
‘People are obliged to starve when they have no money. I asked the
shopkeeper for one biscuit for the baby, and he said he would whip me.’

‘The hard-hearted fellow!’ said the stranger to himself; then, looking
at his watch, ‘I am hurried now, but bring your mother here this
evening.’ As he spoke he rode away; but checking his horse, he called
to John, ‘My little lad, have you had your breakfast? Ah! he is gone;
I should have thought of that before.’ But happy John was already half
way home. As he passed he saw Captain Sam seated before his door,
lighting his pipe; and he determined to stop and speak to him. John
began to think better of the towns-folk, as he called them; and the
thought of having some money in his pocket gave him more confidence,
in which our fisherman’s boy resembled people much older and wiser than
himself.

When John came near to the captain, his heart began to beat quickly,
and he made the best bow that his country education had taught him. It
would have been a hard heart that could not feel for him, as he stood
with his straw hat in his hand, his brown curling hair setting off
his honest countenance, which, young as it was, wore an expression of
care. It is sad to see trouble clouding the brow of childhood; but He
who sends affliction, will send strength to bear it, if we ask Him.
Though John’s father had been dead but a few weeks, he had thought more
in that short time than in his whole life before. While he read God’s
precious promises to his mother, he learned to pray to that merciful
God, and love the kind Saviour.

No doubt it was the Lord’s kindness which turned the heart of the old
captain toward the little fatherless boy. No sooner did he see John’s
modest bow and serious face than he felt an interest in him.

‘Sit down on the steps, my little man, and tell me your name. I suppose
you live in one of these cottages?’

John’s simple story was soon told. When he mentioned his father’s name,
the old sailor called to his wife, ‘I say, Sally, come here; this is
Richard Leddam’s son: many’s the job your father has done for me,
child. Wife, give him something to eat; I suspect the locker at home is
empty.’

John’s heart had been so full that he did not know how hungry he was,
till Mrs. Newton set before him some bacon and bread. They smiled to
see him enjoy his meal; but all at once he stopped eating, and said,
‘Please, sir, let me take this to the children, they are so hungry!’

‘Sally,’ said the captain, ‘put some more on the plate; as it’s but a
step, we will walk along and see poor Leddam’s little ones.’

How pleased the children were when they saw their brother, and the good
breakfast which he brought them! My young reader, would you know the
worth of money? go feed the hungry and clothe the poor orphan.

‘Have you been to school, John?’ said Captain Sam.

‘Father taught me to read, sir.’

‘He could not have done you a better turn, my lad; but you won’t be a
land-lubber, hey!’

‘I would like to be a real sailor, sir, like those I saw in the big
ships in the bay. Henry wants to be a sailor too.’

‘Ah!’ said the captain, ‘if you were only a little older; but we will
see.’

Just then the door was opened, and Mrs Leddam returned. She was pale
and sad, but her heart seemed to revive when she heard her visitor
speak kindly to her. ‘It is a great comfort,’ she said, ‘to know that
there is one person in this strange place that feels for these poor
children. John has been talking of you, sir, ever since we came here;
he is so bent on being a sailor.’

‘And a sailor he shall be,’ said the captain, slapping his hands
together. ‘I hope you will live to see him sail his own vessel.’

When their new friends were gone, John told his mother of the message
from the strange gentleman, and gave her the money he had received for
catching the horse.

‘You have done a better morning’s work than I have,’ she said.

‘Did you go to many places, mother?’

‘I will eat some of this good bread, my son, and then tell you.’



CHAPTER IV.

BE YE KIND-HEARTED.


‘I went first,’ said Mrs Leddam, ‘to the houses where I supposed rich
people lived.’

‘There’s handsome houses in that wide street,’ interrupted John. ‘I
saw, through the windows, pictures hanging on the walls, and such
beautiful curtains! Did you go to them?’

‘I stopped at one door,’ his mother replied: ‘the servant was dressed
as fine as a gentleman. He looked at me with contempt, and said his
mistress had company. At another house, I got to see the lady. She
was sitting in a velvet chair, rocking her baby, and was handsome and
pleasant spoken, and asked me to sit down.’

‘She gave you some work?’ said John.

‘Ah!’ replied Mrs Leddam, sighing, ‘I don’t think she ever felt
trouble. For a moment she seemed sorry for me; but she was so much
taken up with her little girl, that she seemed to forget for a while
that I was in the room, and then dismissed me hastily, telling me to
call again. As I rung the bell at another fine house, the mistress
came out to the door, elegantly dressed, and stepped into a carriage
which was waiting. I asked her for work, and told her of my starving
children. She looked cross, and said there was no end to the calls of
poor people. I looked at a bright purse which she held in her hand, and
thought that one of the gold pieces that shone through the silk would
make me easy for a week. At last I felt faint and sick, and came home.’

‘Wasn’t you glad, mother,’ said Henry, ‘when you found us so well off?’

‘Yes, my son; I felt that God had not forsaken us. And now, John, read
me the chapter we had yesterday.’

‘Which, mother? where Jesus fed the five thousand?’

‘Yes; I love to hear that part which speaks of women and children:
surely He will take care of us helpless ones.’

It has been said, and whoever feels sorrow may know it to be true, ‘A
dark hour makes Jesus bright.’ Before I close this chapter, let me ask
my young reader to remember the words at the beginning, and try to put
them in practice.

You may not always have money to give to the poor, but you can be kind
and thoughtful. A few kind words will often cheer the sad heart of the
widow or orphan.

    Would you be like Jesus,
      And show His gentle mind?
    Then in all your actions
      Remember to be kind.



CHAPTER V.

THE SPANISH SAILOR.


Mrs Leddam’s prospects began from this time to brighten, through the
kindness of Captain Sam, and of the gentleman whose horse John had
caught.

The captain interested a friend in John’s behalf, who owned a small
schooner which was called a lighter, and was used to convey the cargoes
of large vessels to the city. He consented to take the little boy, and
make a man of him, as he said. John was obliged to work hard in all
kinds of weather; but the thought of his mother, and trust in God,
reconciled him to every hardship. Captain Morgan, his master, was a
kind man, and inclined to be religious. When the work of the day was
over, they used to sit in the little cabin of the ‘Sally,’ for so the
vessel was named, and, while the captain smoked his pipe, John read to
him in his Bible.

Now, this little boy was doing good all this time, though he did not
think that such a child as he was could be of service to any one. The
captain had hired a Spanish sailor to assist him, and to take charge
of the boat when he was absent. This Antonio was a strange-looking
creature. His skin was very dark, and his hair hung in black locks over
his face. Although he seemed stern, and could look very fierce with his
large bright eyes, yet beneath his sailor jacket there beat a warm,
kind heart. John soon won the good-will of the Spaniard by his obedient
and pleasant manners, and as the little boy became attached to his new
friend, he felt anxious to do him good.

One night, when the captain was away, Antonio brought the fishing net
that he was netting into the cabin where John was alone. After they had
conversed awhile, John opened the Bible, and proposed to read aloud.
Antonio knew nothing of religion, except making the sign of the cross
when he was sick or sad; but still he called himself a Roman Catholic,
and did not want to hear the Bible read.

‘Just let me read this part,’ said John. ‘Listen, Mr Antonio; it is
about fishermen.’ So, before he could speak, John began to read in Luke
of the calling of Peter, and the miraculous draught of fishes. Antonio
became interested, and after that he made one of the little party in
the cabin, and listened with profit to the word of God.

One fine morning they were lying near a small island; the bay was
smooth as a mirror, and the trees were reflected, leaf for leaf, in its
bosom. Now and then a fish would rise to the surface of the water, take
a breath of air, and dive down again. John amused himself in observing
some wild ducks swimming in the shallow water, watching for prey with
fixed eyes and grave looks, and he smiled to see their disappointment
when the little fish were too cunning or too nimble for them. He was
interrupted by Antonio coming out of the cabin, dressed in his best
clothes.

‘Why, Mr Antonio, where are you going?’

‘Nowhere,’ he replied. ‘This is my saint’s day.’

‘What’s that?’ inquired John.

‘Oh, I am named after San Antonio, and this is his day.’

‘Well,’ said John, ‘I have looked through the New Testament, and have
never found such a saint there.’

‘Why,’ said Antonio, ‘he was not alive at that time.’

‘Who made him a saint then?’

Now, as the sailor had not troubled his head about the matter, he was
puzzled to find an answer. At last he honestly confessed he did not
know.

‘Suppose he is a saint,’ said John, ‘what good can he do you?’

‘Oh,’ he answered, ‘he can pray for me, and help me when I am in
danger.’

John felt serious when he heard this, and said, ‘In that chapter we
read last Sunday, the Lord Jesus says, “Come unto me all ye that
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” There is nothing
said about coming to St Antonio, or St Anyone; but, “Come to me.” I
would rather trust to the Saviour. Would not you?’ and as he spoke, he
looked affectionately in his friend’s face.

Antonio did not reply; but he thought of what had been said, and at
night he requested John to read that chapter to him again.

But time did not always pass so smoothly with our young friend. Many an
hour did he spend drenched with rain and shivering with cold. Often,
too, in helping to unload the vessels, he had to endure rude usage from
the rough sailors and coal porters. Sometimes his heart was almost
broken; but Antonio took his part, and comforted him by his kindness.

John tried in every way to show his gratitude; and when they were
permitted to visit the town, he prevailed on his friend to stay with
him at his own home. These visits were pleasant holidays to John. He
took care to bring a supply of fish with him, that he might not burden
his mother: and if it happened that they could remain over the Sunday,
he kept so close to Antonio that he went to church with him all the day.

It was a pleasant sight to see the sailor, cleanly dressed, sitting in
God’s house, listening to the instructions of the Bible; the young lad
at his side watching his looks with such pleasure and interest, for
of all things John desired most to see his friend a true Christian. I
believe he was more anxious for this than even to be the master of a
vessel.



CHAPTER VI.

BE YE ALSO READY.


Time passed on, and John was now a manly youth of seventeen. He had,
by his good conduct, obtained the confidence of his employer, and was
earning high wages. He had saved all his money, that he might be able
to buy a share in the schooner, and Captain Sam prophesied that he
would soon be a captain himself. His brother Henry had been received
into their employment, and was a smart, affectionate boy; but he never
could rival John in the affections of Antonio.

When Mrs Leddam looked around her and saw the blessings that she
enjoyed, her heart was filled with thankfulness; and she often told the
old captain that no one need doubt the goodness of God to those who
trust in Him.

For several years the family had been accustomed to take their
Christmas dinner at Captain Sam’s; and you may be sure that John and
Antonio, who were always of the party, took care that there was no want
of fine fish and a few wild ducks for the occasion. One morning, after
enjoying a Christmas festival, they bade farewell to their friends, and
jumping gaily on board their little vessel, which they called their
home, unfurled the sail and glided down the bay.

It was a clear, bright December day. They were bound to a large ship
which Captain Morgan had engaged to unload, and where he was expecting
to meet them.

As they were sailing on pleasantly, Antonio remarked, ‘Boys, I don’t
like the looks of the sky.’

‘Why,’ said Henry, ‘it is as blue and bright as it can be.’

‘It will be dark enough before tomorrow,’ he answered, ‘so let us make
more sail; we have a long pull before we reach the ship.’

Before sunset, just as they were in sight of the vessel, the wind,
which had breathed gently from the west, veered round to the
south-east, and began to blow hard. The water, lately so calm, soon
changed its appearance, and the boat danced up and down as the waves
grew rough beneath the influence of the wind. Night came upon them; a
cold rain commenced falling; and as they laboured hard, hoping to reach
the fishing village where John had lived, the tempest increased, and
they wished in vain for day. But day never dawned on all that group of
friends.

‘Where are we?’ said John, breaking a long silence. A flash of
lightning, which blazed on the angry waters, and for a moment lighted
up the scene, answered his question, by discovering to them a point of
land over which the waves were violently breaking.

‘There is a cove in there,’ said Antonio, ‘if we could only make it.’

‘It is full of ugly rocks,’ replied John; ‘I remember the place well.’

‘Ay,’ returned the sailor, ‘I’ll wait for another flash, and try for
it.’

John would have dissuaded him, but his voice was lost in the roar of
the tempest. He felt the boat tremble, as, obeying the helm, she turned
towards the shore; and, catching hold of Henry’s arm, he put his lips
to his ear and said, ‘Don’t be frightened if we capsize, but strike out
from the boat and swim.’

‘Oh, brother!’ cried Henry, ‘this is dreadful;’ and he clung to John,
who only had time to say, ‘Trust in God, pray to Jesus,’ when the
frail vessel was violently hurled against a sunken rock and upset. It
was a moment of confusion and struggles for life.

Antonio, who was at home in the water, only thought of the boys.
He called loudly for them, and heard the voice of John answering.
‘Thank God,’ he said, ‘my own boy is safe; but where is Henry? In the
boat, perhaps, entangled in the rigging; how shall I find it in this
darkness?’

‘Oh, Henry, where are you?’ cried John.

‘Here,’ he answered, ‘clinging to the boat; but I am so cold I can’t
hold on much longer.’

‘Keep up your courage,’ said Antonio; ‘I see the boat now, and will be
there in a moment; hold on for your life!’

A furious gust of wind and rain passed over them and all was
darkness for an instant. Oh, how long even a moment seems in such
circumstances! When the blast had swept by, John, who had sustained
himself on a floating tree, endeavoured once more to find the schooner.
He succeeded, and called out loudly for his brother. A faint voice
responded, ‘Brother! brother! can’t you save me?’ and all was silent.
For a long time they remained in the storm calling his name, but Henry
never spoke again.

At last they gave up all hope of saving him, and swimming to the
shore, they found a fisherman’s hut, where they obtained torches, and
returned. The first object they saw was the body of Henry entangled
among the timber with which the cove was filled. The lighter also was
floating near him.

The storm was abating, and the moon, breaking through the clouds,
threw her light on the sad scene. While the fisherman took charge of
the boat, John and his friend brought the lifeless boy to land, when
Antonio tenderly lifted him in his arms, and carried him to the house.
He bitterly reproached himself for running into the cove against John’s
advice, but John tried to console him. As he smoothed the wet ringlets
on his brother’s brow, and kissed his cold cheek, he said, ‘You did it
for the best, Mr Antonio; if it had been the will of God to save him,
he would have been alive. I trust he is happy now, for he loved the
blessed Saviour.’

The next day poor Henry was buried in the nearest churchyard. We shall
not attempt to describe his mother’s grief.



CHAPTER VII.

JOHN FINDS ANOTHER HENRY.


A short time after the death of Henry, as John was walking along the
wharf, he saw a ragged boy, apparently twelve years of age, leaning
idly on a pile of boards. He was thin, and looked sad. John remembered
his own feelings when he was left a fatherless boy, and he felt his
heart drawn to him. Going to him, he asked if he had no work to do.

‘No,’ replied the lad, ‘I wish I had; I would do anything.’

‘What does your father do for a living?’ John asked.

‘I have no father nor mother,’ said the lad; ‘I just stay wherever
people will let me.’

‘Would you like to work for me on board the schooner yonder?’

His face glowed with pleasure, and he exclaimed, ‘Wouldn’t I!’

‘What is your name?’

‘Harry, sir.’

This settled the matter in John’s mind. ‘I will take him,’ he thought,
‘in dear Henry’s place; and, if he be worthy, will be a brother to him,
and mother will teach him to love God.’

The bargain was soon made, for the poor orphan had no one to care where
he went; so, carrying his little bundle on his arm, he followed his new
friend to the schooner, with a heart as light as a feather. He was a
smart boy, and soon became useful. John took much pains to teach him to
read and to instruct him in religion; for Harry did not know any more
of God, or the blessed Saviour, than do the poor heathen who have never
heard His name. Mrs Leddam made him clothes, and treated him with the
affection of a mother. All this kindness was so new and precious to
Harry, who had been only used to hard words and cross looks, that his
young heart opened to receive it with gratitude and joy, just as you
may have seen a flower, almost withered by the drought, revive beneath
a gentle shower, and send out fresh sweetness again. In the course of
a few months no one would have known the happy looking Harry to be the
ragged and sickly boy that John had met on the wharf. Harry had an
Irish heart, and he repaid John’s kindness with warm affection. He was
afraid of Antonio’s black eyes at first, but he soon learned to love
the kind Spaniard. Thus they were a happy little party on board the
‘Sally,’ because they all loved God and each other.

It was a fine day in June that John went with Antonio and Harry to
visit his brother’s grave. His mother wished to go with them, but John
persuaded her not to do so, fearing that it would renew her sorrow.
They found the place without difficulty. The oak trees were green and
beautiful, and the mound of earth where Henry lay was already covered
with rich verdure, and adorned with wild violets, white and blue,
lifting their modest heads among the tall grass. The water rippled
softly near the churchyard, and all looked so calm and lovely, that
John could scarcely believe that this was the very spot where he had
struggled so hard for life, and where, amid the roaring of the waters,
poor Henry had sunk in death.

He could not help shedding tears as he stood by the grave; but when he
remembered what the Bible says, he was comforted, and said, ‘Henry will
rise again.’

‘Will he?’ said Harry, who was standing by his side.

‘Yes, the word of God says that we shall all rise from our graves at
the last day;’ then, taking from his pocket his Bible, they seated
themselves beneath a tree, while John read 1 Cor. xv. 52: ‘For the
trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and
we shall be changed.’ Then he turned to the first Epistle to the
Thessalonians: ‘For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in
Christ shall rise first.’

Harry listened with attention till John ceased reading, then he asked
him, ‘Did that little boy love God?’

‘Yes, he prayed to God every day, and was so mild and humble, that we
all thought him a child of Jesus. Oh! what a comfort it is when we
look at his grave, to think that he will rise from it a glorious body,
like our Saviour’s; for the Bible tells us that “He shall change our
vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.”’

Kneeling by the grave, they prayed that they might be faithful servants
of Christ, and rest in peace at last. Then, unmooring their little
vessel, they unfurled the sails, the breeze wafting them swiftly to the
town.

When they knelt in family worship that night, John and his mother
wept as they thought of the dear one who was sleeping in the lonely
churchyard; but they did not weep as those who had no hope. As for
Harry, he prayed earnestly that God would give him a new heart, that he
might be His child; and he thanked His heavenly Father for placing him
with kind and good people.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE POOR PRODIGAL SON.


About this time our young friend met with a singular adventure. He
had been taught by his pastor, by reading the Bible, and, above all,
by the teachings of the Holy Spirit, that if we love Christ, that
love will make us wish to do good to others, and seek to bring them
to the Saviour. It was John’s constant prayer that God would give
him something to do for Christ. Now, when we offer such a prayer in
sincerity, it will be answered. We have seen that even when a young
boy, John was taught to be useful to Antonio and his brother Henry;
and as he grew older, his opportunities for doing good increased. My
young reader, is there no one to whom you can do some good? Do you
love the Lord Jesus yourself? This is the first and most important
question; for if you are not a child of God, you cannot be useful to
others,--indeed, you will do harm, and thus have a dreadful account to
give at the day of judgment.

But to return to John’s adventure. In the marshes at the mouth of
the bay, there are great quantities of wild ducks. Many persons are
employed in the winter season in shooting these birds, to supply the
city market. They go out in small boats in pursuit of the game.

John often met with these duck hunters; but as they were not always
profitable companions, he avoided them, remembering that the Bible
says, ‘Evil communications corrupt good manners.’

It happened, however, that being obliged to lie at anchor, to make some
little repairs to his rigging, he stopped where a small river emptied
itself into the bay. Two or three huts had been built to shelter the
hunters; for this was a favourite resort of the wild fowl.

As John was busy splicing ropes, a man, paddling a skiff, came
alongside, and hailed him with, ‘My lad, have you any medicine aboard?
I wish you would let me have some for a sick man.’

‘What kind do you want?’ John inquired.

‘Well, I suppose it don’t matter much; one kind is as good as another.
But perhaps you would come yourself and see our young man, he seems
very bad.’

John did not hesitate; and taking a medicine chest, which he always
kept with him, he jumped into the skiff, and in a few moments was at
the side of the sick person.

Stretched on a hard and dirty pallet, in a damp, comfortless hovel,
there lay a fine-looking youth of eighteen, raving with fever, calling
continually on his father and mother to come to him.

Several young men passed through the room, but they seemed reckless
and dissipated, and their noisy mirth increased the delirium of the
sufferer.

John seated himself by the bed, and taking the sick man’s hand, spoke
kindly to him in a gentle voice. How powerful is the force of kindness!
Those calm words soothed the mind of the youth, and he remained more
quiet, while John endeavoured to discover his disease. Exposure and
neglect, it seemed, had brought on a fever, which threatened to be
fatal. John gave him some medicine, bathed his burning temples,
smoothed his pillow, and fanned him until he sank to sleep. Antonio
brought from the schooner some tea which he prepared; and before night
they had the satisfaction of seeing him more comfortable. It was not
John’s way to do things by halves; and seeing that the poor sufferer
could have no attention from his associates, and would probably die if
neglected, he sent Antonio on with the vessel, while he remained with
his sick charge. The remedies which he had administered soon broke the
fever; and now that the patient was calm, he learned his history.

Edward Reeder had been brought up by pious parents; but falling into
evil company, he had been induced to leave his father’s house, and in
company with a band of reckless youths, came out in this enterprise.
But now he saw his sin and folly, and how frail a dependence is the
friendship of the wicked.

As his young friend read and talked with him he shed tears of
repentance, and begged John to take him away from the scene of
dissipation and wretchedness into which he had brought himself.

As soon as he was able to bear it, John and Antonio carried him to
the skiff, and thus brought him on board the ‘Sally.’ The sea breezes
restored him in a few days, and then John took him to his mother, that
by her good nursing his cure might be completed.

Edward returned to his parents, much wiser and better than when he left
his home. Neither he nor his family ever forgot the kindness of John.
He called him his deliverer; and every year a handsome present was sent
to the family in token of gratitude.



CHAPTER IX.

‘GIVE AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU.’


I have mentioned that it was John’s great desire to own the schooner
in which he had passed so much of his time. He loved every plank in
the ‘Sally,’ and had hoped that, by the time he was twenty-five, he
would be able to buy out the owner.

But though he had laid by every penny that he could spare, he found
that he had not half the amount which was required; and what made
him feel more discouraged, Captain Morgan wished to sell the vessel
immediately, as he intended to retire.

John might have made money much faster if he would have worked on the
Sabbath, as he saw many do who were in the same business, without any
scruples. But he knew that the blessing of God would never rest on
those who broke His commandment; and he valued that blessing more than
gold and silver. He felt disappointed, but tried to be submissive to
the will of God, and to go on in the discharge of his duty. ‘I have
been happy here,’ he thought; ‘but if God’s blessing be with me, if I
live near to my Saviour, I will be happy wherever I am placed.’ Then,
as he noticed the lighter scudding gracefully before the wind, he
sighed and said, ‘I shall be grieved to part with my pretty boat.’

His mind was filled with such thoughts as he lay-to, by the side of a
ship which had just arrived, laden with passengers and goods.

As there was some delay in the arrival of the steamboat, several of the
passengers employed John to convey them to the town. Among them John
observed an elderly gentleman, who looked pale and feeble. With his
usual kindness, the young man stepped forward and assisted the stranger
down the side of the ship, and when he was on board the lighter, John
wrapped his cloak around him, to protect him from the keen air.

They were soon under weigh for the town. While they were sailing
along, the stranger, looking up, observed the flag floating from the
top of the mast, on which was inscribed the name of the schooner. ‘The
“Sally!”’ he said; ‘that name is very familiar to me. Pray, sir,’
turning to John, who was at the helm, ‘what is your name?’

‘John Leddam, sir.’

‘Mine is Reeder, and you must be Edward’s friend.’

They met like old friends, and Mr Reeder soon made himself acquainted
with John’s troubles. He inquired how much money he needed to make up
the whole sum for the purchase of the schooner.

‘Oh, sir,’ said John, ‘a large amount; it will take me three years at
least, with good business, to earn it. I could borrow, but I never will
run in debt. I wish to go by the Bible rule, “Owe no man anything, but
to love one another.”’

The old gentleman smiled, but said nothing.

A day or two after this conversation Captain Morgan came to him.

‘Well, John, the “Sally” is yours; your friend Mr Reeder will advance
the money. He says that he owes you much more than this for saving the
life of his son.’



CHAPTER X.

THE CONCLUSION.

‘Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.’


The joyful day arrived at last when our friend John was rewarded
for his industry and honesty. He was the owner and commander of the
‘Sally.’ Captain Sam was so gratified that he gave a great dinner
on the occasion. But there was no one more pleased with John’s fair
prospects than his friend Antonio. He gave thanks aloud in the fulness
of his heart, clasped John in his arms, hugged Harry, and at last
fairly cried for joy. The old sailor did not, however, long enjoy the
pleasure of working under his young captain. Being exposed to a heavy
rain, he took a severe cold, which settled on his lungs; and when
spring came, with its sweet breezes and warm sun, Antonio was not able
to enjoy them.

John brought him home, where his mother and sisters nursed him tenderly
through his long illness, and he devoted to him all the time he could
spare from his business; for it revived the sick man’s spirits to see
John’s face.

Many an hour through the summer did the young man pass by the bedside
of the suffering Christian, reading to him the precious promises of
God, and uniting with him in praise and prayer.

‘It was you,’ said Antonio, ‘that showed me the way to Jesus. Oh! that
reading of the Bible--it was my salvation!’

When the leaves began to fall before the winds of autumn, the old
sailor was called home to rest. In his last moments he clasped the hand
of John, and employed his dying breath in blessing his ‘own boy,’ as he
had always called his young friend.

John followed Antonio to the grave with sincere grief. He erected a
stone to his memory. It had only his name ‘Antonio’ engraven on it, but
that was sufficient for John’s heart; and there was no one else to care
for the poor sailor who rested in that humble grave. But precious in
the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. However humble may
be the Christian’s lot on earth, or obscure his last resting-place, he
has a happy home in heaven. A few moments in that blessed world will
make us forget all the sorrows of a long life of trouble.

John, or Captain John as he is now called, still sails in the ‘Sally,’
and has as much work as he can do. He has bought a comfortable house in
a pleasant suburb, where he has settled his mother and sisters. It is
painted white, and the porch is shaded with sweet roses. It looks like
a cottage of content, and it is so indeed. Mrs Leddam and John do not
forget their dear Henry, nor their old friend Antonio, but they hope to
meet them at last; and while they enjoy their quiet home, they often
unite their hearts and voices in thanking that merciful God who had
thus kindly guided and blessed the poor fatherless boy.



WHAT A LITTLE BOY CAN DO.


‘I wish, I wish, I wish,’ said a little boy, who awoke early one
morning, and lay in bed thinking; ‘I wish I was grown up, so as to
do some good. If I was governor, I’d make good laws; or I’d be a
missionary; or I’d get rich, and give away so much to poor people; but
I am only a little boy, and it will take me plenty of years to grow
up.’ Was he going to put off doing good till then? ‘Well,’ he said to
himself while he was dressing, ‘I know what I CAN do. I can be good;
that’s left to little boys.’ Therefore, when he was dressed, he knelt
and asked God to help him to be good, and try to serve Him all day with
all his heart, and not FORGET. Then he went down stairs to finish his
lessons.

No sooner was he seated with his clean slate before him, than his
mother called him to run into the wood-house for his little brother.
He did not want to leave his lesson, yet he cheerfully said, ‘I’ll go,
mother;’ and away he ran. And how do you think he found ‘bubby?’ With
a sharp axe in his hand. ‘I chop,’ he said; and quite likely the next
moment he would have chopped off his little toes. The little boy only
thought of minding his mother; but who can tell if his ready obedience
did not save his baby brother from being a cripple for life?

As he was going on an errand for his mother, he saw a poor woman whose
foot had slipped on the newly-made ice, and she fell; and in falling
she had spilled her bag of beans and basket of apples, and some wicked
boys were snatching up her apples and running off with them. The
little boy stopped and said, ‘Let me help you to pick up your beans
and apples,’ and his nimble fingers quickly helped her out of her
mishap. He only thought of being kind; he did not know how his kind act
comforted the poor woman long after she got home, and how she prayed
God to bless him.

At dinner, as his father and mother were talking, his father said
roughly, ‘I shan’t do anything for that man’s son; the old man always
did his best to injure me.’ ‘But, father,’ said the little boy, looking
up into his father’s face, ‘does not the Bible say we must return good
for evil?’ The little boy did not know that his father thought of what
his son had said all the afternoon, and said within himself, ‘My boy is
more of a Christian than I am; I must be a better man.’

When he came home from school at night, he went to the cage and found
his dear canary-bird dead. ‘Oh, mother! and I tended birdie so, and I
loved him so, and he sang so sweetly;’ and the little boy burst into
tears over his poor favourite. ‘Who gave birdie’s life, and who took
it again?’ asked his mother, stroking his head. ‘God,’ he answered
through his tears, ‘and He knows best;’ and he tried to hush himself.

A lady sat in a dark corner in the room. She had lost her two birdies;
and though she hoped they had taken angels’ wings and gone to nestle
in the heavenly land, she would rather have her little sons back to
her nest again. But when she beheld the little boy’s patience and
submission to his Father in heaven, she said, ‘I too will trust Him,
like this little child.’ Her heart was touched, and she went home with
a little spring of healing gushing up there, and she became henceforth
a better mother to the children yet left to her.

When the little boy lay on his pillow that night, he thought, ‘I am too
small to do any good; but oh, I do want to be good, and to love the
Saviour who came down from heaven to die for me. I do want to become
one of the heavenly Father’s dear children.’

The heavenly Father’s children are sometimes called children of light;
and does it not seem as if beams of light shone from this little
child, warming, blessing everybody that came in his way? Who will say
he did not do good?

[Illustration]



_A NEW BOOK FOR GIRLS AND BOYS_

  MILESTONES
  AND
  OTHER STORIES

  [Illustration]

  _BY JESSIE M. E. SAXBY_

  EDINBURGH & LONDON
  OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER



_NEW BOOK OF ADVENTURE FOR BOYS_


  RICHARD
  TREGELLAS

  [Illustration]

  A
  MEMOIR
  OF HIS
  ADVENTURES
  IN THE
  WEST INDIES,

  IN·THE·YEAR·
  OF·GRACE 1781.

  BY

  D. LAWSON·JOHNSTONE


  EDINBURGH & LONDON
  OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER





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