Charles Dickens.

A message from the sea : The extra Christmas number of All the year round online

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" And by the blessing of Heaven, my friends,
one and all," cried the captain, radiant with joy
-" of the Heaven that put it into this Tom Pet-
tifer's head to take so much care of his head
against the bright sun Le lined his hat with the

original leaf in Tregarthen's writing and here
it is !"

With that, the captain, to the utter destruction
of Mr. Pettifer's favourite hat, produced the
book-leaf, very much worn, but still legible, and
gave botli his legs such tremendous slaps, that
they were heard far off in the bay, ana never
accounted for.

" A quarter-past five P.M.," said the captain,
pulling out his watch, " and that's thirty-three
hours and a quarter in all, and a pritty run!''

How they were all overpowered with flight
and triumph ; how the money was restore^ then
and there to Tregarthen ; how Tregarthen, then
and there, gave it all to his daughter ; how the
captain undertook to go to Dringworth Brothers
and re-establish the reputation of their forgotten
old clerk ; how Kitty came in, and was nearly
torn to pieces, and the marriage was reappointed ;
needs not to be told. Nor, how she and the young
fisherman went home to the post-office to prepare
the way for the captain's coming, by declaring
him to be the mightiest of men who had made
all their fortunes and then dutifully withdrew
together, in order that he might have the do-
mestic coast entirely to himself. How he
availed himself of it, is all that remains to tell.

Deeply delighted with his trust, and putting
his heart into it, he raised the latch of the post-
office parlour where Mrs. Raybrock and the
young widow sat, and said :

" May I come in ?"

"Sure you may, Captain Jorgan!" replied
the old lady. " And good reason you have to
be free of the house, though you have not been
too well used in it, by some who ought to have
known better. I ask your pardon."

" No you don't, ma'am," said the captain,
" for I won't let you. Wa'al to be sure !" By
this time he had taken a chair on the hearth be-
tween them. " Never felt such an evil spirit in
the whole course of my life ! There ! T tell you !
I could a'most have cut my own connexion Like
the dealer in my country, away West, who when
he had let himself be outdone in a bargain, said to
himself, ' Now I tell you what ! I'll never speak
to you again.' And he never did, but joined a
settlement of oysters, and translated the multi-
plication-table into their language. Which is
a fact that can be proved. If you doubt it,
mention it to any oyster you come across, and
see if he'll have the face to contradict it."

He took the child from her mother's lap, and
set it on his knee.

" Not a bit afraid of me now, you see. Knows
I am fond of small people. I have a child, and
she's a girl, and I sing to her sometimes."

" What do you sing ?" asked Margaret.

" Not a long song, my dear.
Silas Jorgan
Played the organ.

That's about all. And sometimes I tell her
stories. Stories of sailors supposed to be lost, and
recovered after all hope was abandoned." Here
the captain musingly went back to his song :
" Silas Jorgan
Played tbe organ,"


[December 13, 1800.]

repeating it with Ms eyes on the fire, as he
softly danced the child on' his knee. Eor, he felt
that Margaret had stopped working.

" Yes," said the captain, still looking at the
fire. "I make up stories and tell 'em to that
child. Stories of shipwreck on desert islands
and long delay in getting back to civilised lands.
It is to stories the like "of that, mostly, that
Silas Jorgan
Plays the organ."

Tl^-e was no light in the room but the light
of tliJ fire ; for, the shades of night were on the
village, and the stars had begun to peep out
of the sky one by one, as the houses of the
village peeped out from among the foliage when
the night departed. The captain felt that Mar-
garet's eyes were upon him, and thought it dis-
creetest to keep his own eyes on the fire.

" Yes ; I make 'em up," said the captain. "I
make up stories of brothers brought together by
the good providence of GOD. Of sons brought
back to mothers husbands brought back to
w ives fathers raised from the deep, for little
children like herself."

Margaret's touch was on his arm, and he could
not choose but look round now. Next moment
her hand moved imploringly to his breast, and she
was on her knees before him : supporting the
mother, who was also kneeling.

"What's the matter?" said the captain.
"What's the matter?

Silas Jorgan
Played the "

Their looks and tears were too much for him,
and he could not finish the song, short as it was.

" Mistress Margaret, you have borne ill for-
tune well. Could you bear good fortune equally
well, if it was to come ?"

"I hope so. I thankfully and humbly and
earnestly hope so !"

" Wa'al, my dear," said the captain, " p'raps
it has come. He's don't be frightened shall
Isav the word?"



The thanks they fervently addressed to Heaven
were again too much for the captain, who openly
took out his handkerchief and dried his eyes.

'He's no further off," resumed the cap-
-ain, "than my country. Indeed, he's no fur-
ther off than his own native country. To tell
you the truth, he's no further off than Eal-
mouth. Indeed, I doubt if he's quite so fur.
Indeed, if you was sure you could bear it
nicely, and I was to do no more than whistle
for him "

The captain's trust was discharged. A rush
came, and they were all together again.

This was a fine opportunity for Tom Pettifer
to appear with a tumbler of cold water, and lie
presently appeared with it, and administered it
to the ladies : at the same time soothing them,
and composing their dresses, exactly as if they
had been passengers crossing the Channel. The
extent to which the captain slapped his legs,
when Mr. Pettifer acquitted himself of this act
of stewardship, could have been thoroughly ap-
preciated by no one but himself : inasmuch as
he must have slapped them black and blue, and
they must have smarted tremendously.

He couldn't stay for the wedding; having a'
few appointments to keep, at the irreconcilable
distance of about four thousand miles. So, next
morning, all the village cheered him up to the
level ground above, and there he shook hands
with a complete Census of its population, and
invited the whole, without exception, to come
and stay several months with him at Salem,
Mass., U.S. And there, as he stood on the
spot where he had seen that little golden
picture of love and parting, and from which
he could that morning contemplate another
golden picture with a vista of golden years in
it, little Kitty put her arms around his neck,
and kissed him on both his bronzed cheeks,
and laid her pretty face upon his storm-beaten
breast, in sight of all : ashamed to have called
such a noble captain names. And there, the
captain waved his hat over his head three final
times ; and there, he was last seen, going away
accompanied by Tom Pettifer Ho, and carrying
his hands in his pockets. And there, before that
ground was softened with the fallen leaves of
three more summers, a rosy little boy took his
first unsteady run to a fair young mother's
breast, and the name of that infaut fisherman
was Jorgan llaybrock.







The right of Translating tay portion of A MESSAGE riioa ME SJ;A is.rcmcal hij the

Published at the Office, No. 26. Wellington Street, Strand. IVinlei] by C. WHITING, Beaufort House, Strnnd.


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Online LibraryCharles DickensA message from the sea : The extra Christmas number of All the year round → online text (page 12 of 12)