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Joshua was also looking into the fire, and he saw in it, as plain as plain could be, a fiery ship, full-rigged, with fiery ropes and fiery sails, and saw himself, Joshua Marvel, standing on the poop, dressed in gold-laced coat and gold-laced cockedhat, with a telescope in his hand. For Joshua, without the slightest idea as to how it was all to come about, had made up his mind that he was to be a captain, dressed as Nelson was in a picture which was one of Praiseworthy Meddler's prize possessions, and which occupied the place of honour in the Old Sailor's cabin. While this vision was before Joshua, Mrs. Marvel continued to cry, but in a more subdued manner.
* And so you want to be a sailor, Josh ?' queried Mr. Marvel.
• Yes. A sailor first, and then a captain.'
The intermediate grades were of too small importance to be considered.
* I am sure, Josh,' said Mrs. Marvel, crying all the while, 'I don't see what you want to go away for. Why don't you make up your mind even now to apprentice yourself to father's trade and be contented ? You might get a little shop of your own in time, if you worked very hard, and it would be pleasant for all of us.'
You be quiet, mother,' said Mr. Marvel. “,
. What do women know about these things? I'm Joshua's father, I believe
“Yes, George, I believe you are,' sobbed Mrs. Marvel.
* And, as Joshua's father, I tell you again, once and for all, that he's not going to be a woodturner. Here's the old subject come up again with a vengeance! I wish a woman's clothes were like a woman's ideas; then they would never wear out. A wood-turner! A pretty thing a woodturner is! I've been a wood-turner all my life, and what better off am I for it?'
'I am sure, father, we have been very happy,' said Mrs. Marvel.
'I am not saying anything about that,' observed Mr. Marvel, expressing in his voice a very small regard for domestic happiness, although, in reality, no man better appreciated it.
• What I say is, I've been a wood-turner all my life; and what I ask is, what better off am I, or you, or any of us, for it? If Josh likes to be a wood-turner, , he can; I have nothing to say against it, except that he's been a precious long time making up his mind. And if he likes to be a sailor, he can; I have nothing to say against that. I'm
Joshua's father, and, as Joshua's father, I say if Josh likes to make a start in life for himself as a sailor, let him. If I was Josh, I would do the same myself.'
. Thank you, father,' said Joshua.—' And, mother, if you only heard what Mr. Praiseworthy Meddler says of the sea, you would think very differently; I know you would.'
But Mrs. Marvel shook her head and would not be comforted.
• My father was a wood-turner,' said Mr. Marvel, and he made me a wood-turner. He never asked me whether I would or I wouldn't, and I didn't have a choice. If he had have asked me, perhaps we shouldn't have gone on pinching and pinching all our lives. Now Joshua's different; he's got his choice: never forget, Josh, that it was your father who gave you the world to pick from — and I think he's acting sensibly, as I should have done if my father had given me the chance. But he didn't, and it's too late for a man with his head full of white hairs to commence life all over again.'
And Mr. Marvel fell-to smoking his pipe again, and studying the fire.
• I've never seen the sea myself,' he presently
resumed; but I've read of it, and heard talk of it. There are better lands across the seas than Stepney, for a youngster like Josh. There are lots of chances, too; and who knows what may happen ?
* That's where it is, father,' whimpered Mrs. Marvel ; we don't know what might happen. Suppose Josh is shipwrecked; what would you say then? You'd lie awake night after night, father—you know you would—and wish he had been a wood-turner. I've never seen the sea, and I never want to; I've been happy enough without it. It's like flying in the face of Providence. And what's to become of us when we are old, if Josh can't take care of us ?'
• Just so, mother. Listen to me, and be sensible. Suppose Josh becomes a wood-turner; he can't expect to do better than his father has done. I am not a bad workman myself; and though Josh might make as good, I don't think he'd make a better. Now what I say again isand it's wonderful what a many times a man has to say a thing before he can drive it into a woman's head, if she ain't willing-although I'm a good workman, what better off am I for it? And what better off would Josh be for it, when he gets to be as old as I am ? We've commenced to lay by a good many times—haven't we, Maggie ?but we never could keep on with it. First a bit of sickness took it; then a bit of furniture that we couldn't do without took it; then a rise in bread and meat took it; and then bit of something else took it. You've been a good woman to me, Maggie, and you've pinched all you
could for twenty years; and what has come of all your pinching? There's that old teapot you used to lay by in. It's at the back of the cupboard now, and it hasn't had a shilling in it for I don't know when's the time. It would be full of dust, mother, only you don't like dust; and a good job too. But it ain't your fault that it isn't full of something better; and it ain't my fault. It's all because I've been a wood-turner all my days. And the upshot of it is, that we're not a bit better off now than we were twenty years ago. We're worse off; for we've spent twenty good years and got nothing for them.'
* We've got Josh and Sarah,' Mrs. Marvel ventured fo say. The simple woman actually regarded those possessions as of inestimable value -but that is the way of a great many foolish mothers.