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Object, to bring reasons against.
STORY OF A CABIN-BOY.
I am now going to tell you the story of a cabin-boy. His name was George Gordon. His mother was a widow. George was her only child. His father, who was a sailor, had not been heard of for several years. Sometime since, he sailed for South America, and that was the last that was ever known of him.
Mrs. Gordon was a poor woman, but she was very industrious; and, with a little help from some kind neighbors, she did pretty well. She lived in a small house, but she kept it very neat and clean, so that it was quite comfortable.
Mrs. Gordon contrived to send George to school; and although he was more fond of play than books, yet he learnt to read and write. At length he was fifteen years old, and then he was very anxious to go to sea. His mother objected to it, for she thought the life of a sailor a hard one; and, besides, she was afraid that he would fall into bad company, and become thoughtless and wicked, like many other sailors.
But George had been familiar with the water from childhood. He could manage a boat with the greatest ease. In catching fish with a book and line, he was more clever than any other boy in the town. He loved the very dangers of the water; and when a storm heaved the waves upon the rocks, he delighted to be out in a little skiff, and hover, like a sea-gull, on the tops of the breaking billows.
His love for the sea became at length his ruling passion; and, as his mother withheld her consent, he resolved to leave her by stealth, and go abroad in a ship. Accordingly, one night, after his mother had gone to bed, he packed up his clothes, passed silently out of the door, and set off on foot for a large neighboring seaport. Poor thoughtless lad!
It was sunrise when he arrived at the port. He immediately went down to one of the wharfs, and offered himself as cabin-boy
to the captain of a whale-ship that was just about to sail. The captain received him on board the vessel, and in a few hours they sailed upon their voyage.
They had a fair wind, and in a short time were out at sea. George's plans had all succeeded. He had escaped from his mother, he had found a berth on board a ship, and he was now actually on the broad ocean, going in search of adventures.
Frolic, active fun.
For two days George was quite happy. His business was to take care of the cabin, to keep it in good order, and attend to the wants of the captain. He found his situation an easy one, and he saw many things to please him. He was delighted with the sparkling of the sea at night: he would often sit and look at the waters that heaped themselves up before the bows of the vessel. These seemed sometimes to be a mass of fire, so brilliant as to make it quite light for all around the ship.
The second day after they left the port, George saw a number of strange-looking creatures. They were quite black, and looked like a parcel of hogs rolling along in the waves. George knew them to be porpoises; he had now and then seen them before, but never in such numbers. There were more than a thousand of them, and they seemed to be all engaged in frolic.
George was delighted with these creatures, and seemed to consider the whole a very pleasant affair. But an old sailor, who was looking at the porpoises, shook his head, and said they would have foul weather to-morrow. George paid little attention to this, for the weather was now extremely fine.
A fisherman can see a fish in the water when another person can not; and, in like manner, an old sailor can see danger when a landsman does not suspect it.
In a few hours, however, things began to change. The sky became cloudy, and the sea began to roll in long heavy waves. The captain had put on his thick pea-jacket, and was very busy in ordering the men to put every part of the ship in
complete trim. He wore a look of some anxiety, and this seemed gradually to spread among all the sailors.
The wind now began to blow in heavy gusts; and, as they fell upon the sails of the ship, she was driven upon one side, as if she would be upset. The time of night was coming on: it was already beginning to be dark. At this moment a little bird flew on board the ship, and, overcome by fatigue, fell upon the deck. George picked it up, and carried it down into the cabin ; but the little creature soon died.
This little bird was one of those which the sailors call Mother Cary's chickens. These birds are not often seen but out at sea; and, as they are particularly given to coming near ships in stormy weather, the sailors consider them as forerunners of evil.
Abate, decrease. The sun went down, and, as the darkness settled upon the waters, the howling tempest swept over the ocean with resistless fury. The rattling of the cordage, the creaking of the masts, the roar of the waters, the flapping of the sails, the groaning of the ship as she struggled with the waves, the cries of the captain and the mate to the sailors—all these sounds came upon the ear of the cabin-boy with a new and frightful meaning. He had never imagined a scene like this.
Afraid to be on deck, he went down into the cabin ; but there he was uneasy, and again he went upon deck. All was darkness around, except that here and there, the breaking of the waves gave a momentary view of the white and sparkling tops. Now and then, too, a broad flash of lightning laid bare the tumbling waters to the sight. Then the thunder sounded, and, for an instant, the peal seemed to silence the uproar of the ship.
Overawed by the scene, George retired to his cabin, and crept into his berth, or bedplace. He wrapped the clothes about his head to hide himself from the flashes of lightning, and he held his ears to avoid hearing the thunder. But there was a feeling at his heart that he could not shut out. It whispered of his poor mother, and the folly and wickedness of her son, who had
stolen from her roof, and left her to weep in solitude and sorrow. This feeling was far more bitter than fear; and, for a short time, the poor boy forgot the dangers of the storm in his distress at the thoughts of his mother, and of his own behaviour.
But at length he was roused from his reflections by a loud noise, and a sudden cry of the men on deck. He sprang from his berth and ran upon deck. The lightning had struck the vessel and set it on fire. The flame had already extended nearly over the mainsail, which, at the time, was the only sail spread.
The destruction of the ship seemed inevitable; and, for a moment, all on board gave themselves up for lost. But the next instant a tremendous wave struck the side of the ship, and, passing over it, fell upon the mainsail, and in an instant put out the flame!
The remainder of the night was spent in fear and anxiety. The waves repeatedly broke over the vessel, and several times it seemed that she would be overwhelmed. But Providence watched over the crew; and as the morning came, the tempest began to abate.
When the sun rose, the wind had quite subsided; but yet the water continued to roll, with a heavy swell, for several hours. This ceased at length, and the water gradually settled into a state of perfect rest. All around the ocean seemed like a vast lake, whose surface was not disturbed by a breath of wind. The vessel lay on the water as motionless as a stone upon the land.
The sailors took advantage of the calm to repair the ship. At length the night came, and the moon shed its beautiful light upon the waves. The cabin-boy, who had now, in some ineasure, forgotten his sorrow, looked upon the scene with pleasing wonder. The whole ocean beneath the moon appeared like a broad bay of silver. The sailors seemed to forget the peril they had passed. One of them had a violin, on which he played some lovely tunes; some of them danced, some of them sang songs, and they were happy again.
The next morning a breeze sprang up, and the vessel proceeded on her voyage.
Harpoon, small spear for whales.
The whale-ship went on her voyage, but nothing remarkable happened for some time. At length they began to approach the seas in the neighbourhood of Greenland. They had already met with several icebergs, and although it was now near the first of June, the air was exceedingly cold.
They soon arrived among a great number of icebergs, which nearly covered the water. Among these they at length discovered a whale. Immediately a boat was got out, and eight of the men entered it. They then rowed cautiously towards the fish. They could just see its back above the water. As the whale is very quick in hearing and sight, they were obliged to be very careful.
Pretty soon the men in the boat had come close to the whale. At this moment it threw up great jets of its thick breath into the air, from the two holes in its head, which are its nostrils. At the same instant, one of the men, standing in the forepart of the boat, plunged a harpoon into its body, just behind its head.
As soon as the whale felt the wound it plunged beneath the water, making such a whirlpool as it went down, as nearly to swallow up the boat. The harpoon stuck fast in the whale's back. A long rope being fastened to it, the whale drew away the rope with prodigious swiftness. As the rope ran over the edge of the boat, the sailors were obliged to throw wal.er upon the place, to prevent its taking fire by the violent rubbing
Thus the whale continued to dart forward in the waters, pulling the rope after it. The boat, also, was pulled along with great rapidity; but the sailors were very careful to keep it straight, and not to let the rope get entangled, lest the boat should be upset. For some time the whale kept under water; but at length it was obliged to come up to the top to breathe. The sailors saw it at a great distance spouting its breath into the air. As they approached the spot they