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pleased : he didn't want any more Meddlers, he said. But he couldn't help it; no more could I. He did what he thought was the very best thing for me—he gave me a fine Christian name to balance my surname : he had me christened Praiseworthy. Now that made it worse. If I was laughed at for being a Meddler, I was laughed at more for being a Praiseworthy Meddler. Once, when I was a young fellow, I did good service in a ship I was serving in. When we came into port, the skipper reported well of me, and the owners sent for me. I went to the office, thinking that I should be promoted for my good services. The firm owned at least a dozen merchant-ships; and I should have been promoted, if it hadn't been for my
The owners spoke kindly to me; and after I had satisfied them that I was fit for promotion, the youngest partner asked my name. I
I told him Meddler. He smiled, and the other partners smiled. “What other name ?” he asked.
Praiseworthy," I answered; “Praiseworthy Meddler.” He laughed at that, and said that I was the only Praiseworthy Meddler he had ever met. They seemed so tickled at it, that the serious part of the affair slipped clean out of their heads; they called me an honest fellow, and said that they
would not forget me. They didn't forget me; they gave me five pounds over and above my pay. If it hadn't been for my name, they might have appointed me mate of one of their ships. I was so mad with thinking about it, that I began to hate myself because I was a Meddler. If the name had been something I could have got hold of, I would have strangled it. At last I made up my mind that I would get spliced, and that I would take my lass's name the day I was married. Being on leave, and stopping at my father's house, I told him what I had made up my mind to do. He was a melancholy man-it was his name that made him so, I do believe--and he told me, in his melancholy voice, that it was the best thing I could do, and that he wished he had thought of doing so before he married. “Wipe it out, my boy," he
” said—“ wipe out the unlucky name; sweep all the Meddlers out of the world. It would have been better you had been born with a hump than been born a Meddler.” He talked a little wild sometimes, but we were used to it. I began to look about me; and one day I caught sight of a lass who took my fancy. My leave was nearly expired, and I had to join my ship in a few days. I wanted to learn all about the girl, and I was too bash
ful to do it myself, which is not the usual way of sailors, my dear. So I pointed out the lass to a shipmate, and told him I had taken a fancy to her, and would he get me all the information he could about her. That very night, as I was bolting the street-door, just before going to bed, I heard my shipmate's voice outside in the street. “Is that you, Meddler ?” he asked. “Yes, Jack,” I answered. “I thought I'd come to tell you at once,” he cried; “I've found out all about her. Her father's dead, and her mother's married again, and the lass isn't happy at home.” “ That makes it all the better for me," I said. "Has she got a
. sweetheart ?” “None that she cares a button for, or that a sailor couldn't cut out," he answered. “Hurrah !" I cried; “I will go and see her tomorrow. Thank you, Jack; good-night.” “Good
“ night,” he said, and I heard him walking away. Just then I remembered that I had forgotten the most important thing of all — her name. bolted the door, and called after him, “What is her name, Jack ?” Mary Gotobed !” he cried from a distance. • Mary what?” I shouted. “Gotobed !” he cried again. I bolted the door, and went.'
Praiseworthy Meddler, pausing to take breath,
cast another droll look upon his attentive audi
Gotobed !' he then resumed. Why, it was worse than Meddler! I couldn't marry a lass named Gotobed, and take her name; I didn't want to marry and keep my own name; I couldn't put them together and make one sensible name out of the two. Gotobed Meddler was as bad as Meddler Gotobed. And the worst of it all was, that I liked the lass. She was as pretty a lass as ever I set eyes on. She looked prettier than ever when I saw her the next day; and, forgetting all about the names, I spoke to her and lost myself.'
'Lost yourself!' exclaimed Mrs. Marvel.
Yes, my dear,' said the Old Sailor, with a bashfulness that did not set ill upon him. 'I fell in love.'
He said this in a confidential hoarse whisper to Mrs. Marvel, as if the youngsters ought not to hear it.
• O, that!' said Mrs. Marvel with a smile.
But directly she heard what my name was,' continued the Old Sailor, 'she burst out laughing, and ran away. I had to go to my ship soon after that; and when I came back again, she was married to some one else. So I gave up the idea of
marrying; and the name I was born to has stuck to me all my life. And that is the reason why I never married, and why I never became a skipper.'
They made merry over the Old Sailor's story, and over other stories that he told of the sea, and of the chances it afforded a youngster like Joshua of getting on in the world. And towards the close of the evening Mrs. Marvel fairly gave in, and promised that she would not say another word against Joshua's determination to be a sailor. In token of which submission a large jug of grog was compounded, in honour of the Old Sailor; and when that was drunk, another was pounded in honour of Joshua. Of both of which Praiseworthy Meddler drank so freely, that he staggered home to his barge in a state of semiinebriation, singing snatches of sea-songs without intermission, until he tumbled into his hammock and fell asleep.