Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Joshua placed the bread before him, and be broke a piece from the loaf and gave it to Minnie, who ate it greedily.

6 « So fair and foul a day I have not seen, the man muttered; and both Joshua and Susan thought, 'How strangely yet how beautifully he

[ocr errors]

6

speaks !

[ocr errors]

Susan made the tea downstairs, and she and Joshua sat quietly by, while the man and his daughter ate like starved wolves. It was a bitterly painful sight to see.

'I think we had better go now, Susan,' whispered Joshua.

They would have left the room without a word; but the man said,

• What is your name, and what are you ?'

My name is Joshua Marvel, and I'm going to be a sailor.'

66. There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,

,said the actor, “ “ To keep watch for the life of poor Jack." '

• That's what Praiseworthy Meddler says,' said Joshua, laughing. 'I shall come and see you again, if you will let me.'

• Come and welcome.'
Good-night, sir.'

6

6

Good-night, and God bless you, Joshua Marvel !

Minnie went to the door with Joshua and Susan, and looking at Joshua, with the tears in her strangely-beautiful eyes, said:

Good-night, and God bless you, Joshua Marvel !'

She raised herself on tiptoe, and Joshua stooped and kissed her. After that, Susan gave her & hug, and she returned to her father and lay down beside him.

When he arrived home, Joshua told Dan of the adventure, and how he had spent the fourteenpence. Dan nodded his head approvingly.

• You did right,' he said—you always do. I should have done just the same.'

Then they took the odd volume of Shakespeare from the shelf, and read the Ghost scenes in Hamlet before they said good-night.

CHAPTER VII.

EXPLAINS WHY PRAISEWORTHY MEDDLER REMAINED

A BACHELOR.

HERE is Praiseworthy Meddler, sitting in the best chair in a corner of the fireplace in the little kitchen in Stepney. In his low shoes and loose trousers, and blue shirt open at the throat, he looks every inch a sailor; and his great red pockmarked face is in keeping with his calling. On the other side of the fireplace, facing Praiseworthy Meddler, is Mr. George Marvel; next to Praiseworthy Meddler is Mrs. Marvel; on a stool at her father's feet sits Sarah ; and Joshua sits at the table, watching every shade of expression that passes over his mother's face. The subject-matter of the conversation is the sea; and Praiseworthy Meddler has been 'holding forth,' as is evidenced by his drawing from the bosom of his shirt a blue - cotton pocket-handkerchief, upon which is imprinted a ship of twelve hundred tons burden, A 1 at Lloyd's for an indefinite number of years. The ship is in full sail, and all its canvas is set to a favourable breeze. Upon this blue vessel Praiseworthy Meddler dabs his red face in a manner curiously suggestive of his face being a deck, and the handkerchief a mop. When he has mopped his deck, which appears to be a perpetually-perspiring one, he spreads his handkerchief over his knee to dry, and says, as being an appropriate tag to what has gone before,

There is no place on earth like the sea.'

The Old Sailor was not aware that anything of a paradoxical nature was involved in the statement, or he might not have repeated it:

There is no place on earth like the sea. Show me the man who says there is, and I'll despise him; if I don't, I'm a Dutchman;' adding, to strengthen his declaration, or a double Dutchman.'

The man not being forthcoming-probably he was not in the neighbourhood, or, being there, did not wish to be openly despised — Praiseworthy Meddler looked around with the air of one who has the best of the argument, and then produced a piece of pigtail from a mysterious recess, and bit into it as if he were a savage boar biting into the heart of a foe.

[ocr errors]

6

6

6

. But the danger, Mr. Meddler,' suggested Mrs. Marvel in a trembling voice.

• There is more danger upon land, lady.'

• There, mother,' said Mr. Marvel ; didn't I tell you so the other night ?'

• You told her right,' said Praiseworthy with emphasis. 'Danger on the sea, lady! What is it to danger on the land ? A ship can ride over a wave, let it be ever so high; but a man can't step over a wagon. Are carts and drays and horses safe? Are gas-pipes safe? And if there is danger on the sea, lady—which I don't deny, mind you, altogether—what does it do? Why, it makes a man of a boy, and it makes a man more of a man.'

Hear, hear, HEAR ! exclaimed Mr. Marvel, rapping on the table.

Look at me!' said the enthusiastic sailor. Here am I–I don't know how many years old, and that's a fact-I've lived on the sea from when I was a boy; and I've been blown by rough winds, and I've been blinded by storms, and I've been wrecked on rocky coasts, and I've been as near death, ay, a score of times, as most men have been. Lord love you, my dear! All we've got to do is to do our duty; and when we're called aloft,

a

[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »