more than I do for the shape of my nose, which
is said to be a facsimile of Captain Nutter s.
I have frequently noticed how circumstances
conspire to help a man, or a boy, when he has
thoroughly resolved on doing a thing. That
very week the Rivermouth Barnacle printed an
advertisement that seemed to have been writ
ten on purpose for me. It read as follows
WANTED. A Few ABLE-BODIED SEAMEN and a
Cabin-Boy, for the ship Rawlings^ovf loading for New
Orleans at Johnson s Wharf, Boston. Apply in person,
within four days, at the office of Messrs.
& Co., or on board the Ship.
How I was to get to New Orleans with only
$4.62 was a question that had been bother
ing me. This advertisement made it as clear
as day. I would go as cabin-boy.
I had taken Pepper into my confidence again ;
I had told him the story of my love for Miss
Glentworth, with all its harrowing details ; and
now conceived it judicious to confide in him
the change about to take place in my life, so
that, if the Rawlings went down in a gale, my
friends might have the limited satisfaction of
knowing what had become of me.
Pepper shook his head discouragingly, and
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 251
sought in every way to dissuade me from the
step. He drew a disenchanting picture of
the existence of a cabin-boy, whose constant
duty (according to Pepper) was to have dishes
broken over his head whenever the captain or
the mate chanced to be out of humor, which
was mostly all the time. But nothing Pepper
said could turn me a hair s breadth from my
I had little time to spare, for the advertise
ment stated explicitly that applications were
to be made in person within four days. I
trembled to think of the bare possibility of
some other boy snapping up that desirable sit
It was on Monday that I stumbled upon the
advertisement. On Tuesday my preparations
were completed. My baggage consisting of
four shirts, half a dozen collars, a piece of shoe
maker s wax (Heaven knows what for !), and
five stockings, wrapped in a silk handkerchief
lay hidden under a loose plank of the stable
floor. This was my point of departure.
My plan was to take the last train for Bos
ton, in order to prevent the possibility of im
mediate pursuit, if any should be attempted.
The train left at 4 P. M.
I ate no breakfast and little dinner that day.
I avoided the Captain s eye, and would not
252 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
have looked Miss Abigail or Kitty in the face
for the wealth of the Indies.
When it was time to start for the station I
retired quietly to the stable and uncovered
my bundle. I lingered a moment to kiss the
white star on Gypsy s forehead, and was nearly
unmanned when the little animal returned the
caress by lapping my cheek. Twice I went
back and patted her.
On reaching the station I purchased my
ticket with a bravado air that ought to have
aroused the suspicion of the ticket-master, and
hurried to the car, where I sat fidgeting until
the train shot out into the broad daylight.
Then I drew a long breath and looked about
me. The first object that saluted my sight
was Sailor Ben, four or five seats behind me,
reading the Rivermouth Barnacle !
Reading was not an easy art to Sailor Ben ;
he grappled with the sense of a paragraph as
if it were a polar bear, and generally got the
worst of it. On the present occasion he was
having a hard struggle, judging by the way he
worked his mouth and rolled his eyes. He had
evidently not seen me. But what was he doing
on the Boston train ?
Without lingering to solve the question, I
stole gently from my seat and passed into the
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 253
This was very awkward, having the Admiral
on board. I could not understand it at all.
Could it be possible that the old boy had got tired
of land and was running away to sea himself ?
That was too absurd a supposition. I glanced
nervously towards the car door now and then,
half expecting to see him come after me.
We had passed one or two way-stations, and
I had quieted down a good deal, when I began
to feel as if somebody was looking steadily at
the back of my head. I turned round involun
tarily, and there was Sailor Ben again, at the
farther end of the car, wrestling with the
Rivermouth Barnacle as before.
I began to grow very uncomfortable indeed.
Was it by design or chance that he thus dogged
my steps ? If he was aware of my presence,
why did he not speak to me at once ? Why
did he steal round, making no sign, like a par
ticularly unpleasant phantom ? May be it was
not Sailor Ben. I peeped at him slyly. There
was no mistaking that tanned, genial phiz of
his. Very odd he did not see me !
Literature, even in the mild form of a coun
try newspaper, always had the effect of poppies
on the Admiral. When I stole another glance
in his direction his hat was tilted over his right
eye in the most dissolute style, and the River-
mouth Barnacle lay in a confused heap beside
254 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
him. He had succumbed. He was fast asleep.
If he would only keep asleep until we reached
our destination !
By and by I discovered that the rear car had
been detached from the train at the last stop
ping-place. This accounted satisfactorily for
Sailor Ben s singular movements, and con
siderably calmed my fears. Nevertheless, I
did not like the aspect of things.
The Admiral continued to snooze like a good
fellow, and was snoring melodiously as we
glided at a slackened pace over a bridge and
I grasped my pilgrim s bundle, and, hurrying
out of the car, dashed up the first street that
It was a narrow, noisy, zigzag street, crowded
with trucks and obstructed with bales and
boxes of merchandise. I did not pause to
breathe until I had placed a respectable dis
tance between me and the railroad station. By
this time it was nearly twilight.
I had got into the region of dwelling-houses,
and was about to seat myself on a doorstep to
rest, when, lo ! there was the Admiral trun
dling along on the opposite sidewalk, under a
full spread of canvas, as he would have ex
I was off again in an instant at a rapid pace ;
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 255
but in spite of all I could do he held his own
without any perceptible exertion. He had a
very ugly gait to get away from, the Admiral.
I did not dare to run, for fear of being mis
taken for a thief, a suspicion which my bundle
would naturally lend color to.
I pushed ahead, however, at a brisk trot, and
must have got over one or two miles my
pursuer neither gaining nor losing ground
when I concluded to surrender at discretion.
I saw that Sailor Ben was determined to have
me, and, knowing my man, I knew that escape
was highly improbable.
So I turned round and waited for him to
catch up with me, which he did in a few sec
onds, looking rather sheepish at first.
" Sailor Ben," said I severely, " do I under
stand that you are dogging my steps ? "
" Well, little messmate," replied the Admiral,
rubbing his nose, which he always did when he
was disconcerted, "I am kind o followin in
" Under orders ? "
" Under orders."
" Under the Captain s orders ? "
" In other words, my grandfather has sent
you to fetch me back to Rivermouth ? "
" That s about it," said the Admiral, with a
burst of frankness.
256 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
" And I must go with you whether I want to
or not ? "
" The Capen s very identical words ! "
There was nothing to be done. I bit my
lips with suppressed anger, and signified that I
was at his disposal, since I could not help it.
The impression was very strong in my mind
that the Admiral would not hesitate to put me
in irons if I showed signs of mutiny.
It was too late to return to Rivermouth that
night a fact which I communicated to the
old boy sullenly, inquiring at the same time
what he proposed to do about it.
He said we would cruise about for some ra
tions, and then make a night of it. I did not
condescend to reply, though I hailed the sug
gestion of something to eat with inward enthu
siasm, for I had not taken enough food that
day to keep life in a canary.
We wandered back to the railroad station, in
the waiting-room of which was a kind of res
taurant presided over by a severe-looking young
lady. Here we had a cup of coffee apiece,
several tough doughnuts, and some blocks of
venerable sponge-cake. The young lady who
attended on us, whatever her age was then,
must have been a mere child when that sponge
cake was made.
The Admiral s acquaintance with Boston
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 257
hotels was slight ; but he knew of a quiet lodg
ing-house near by, much patronized by sea-
captains, and kept by a former friend of his.
In this house, which had seen its best days,
we were accommodated with a mouldy cham
ber containing two cot-beds, two chairs, and a
cracked pitcher on a washstand. The mantel
shelf was ornamented with three big pink
conch-shells, resembling pieces of petrified
liver ; and over these hung a cheap lurid print,
in which a United States sloop of war was giv
ing a British frigate particular fits. It is very
strange how our own ships never seem to suffer
any in these terrible engagements. It shows
what a nation we are.
An oil lamp on a deal table cast a dismal
glare over the apartment, which was cheerless
in the extreme. I thought of our sitting-room
at home, with its flowery wall-paper and gay
curtains and soft lounges ; I saw Major El-
kanah Nutter (my grandfather s father) in
powdered wig and Federal uniform, looking
down benevolently from his gilt frame between
the bookcases ; I pictured the Captain and
Miss Abigail sitting at the cosey round table
in the moonlight glow of the astral lamp ; and
then I fell to wondering how they would re
ceive me when I came back. I wondered if
the Prodigal Son had any idea that his father
258 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
was going to kill the fatted calf for him, and
how he felt about it, on the whole.
Though I was very low in spirits, I put on a
bold front to Sailor Ben, you will understand.
To be caught and caged in this manner was
a frightful shock to my vanity. He tried to
draw me into conversation ; but I answered in
icy monosyllables. He again suggested we
should make a night of it, and hinted broadly
that he was game for any amount of riotous
dissipation, even to the extent of going to see
a play if I wanted to. I declined haughtily.
I was dying to go.
He then threw out a feeler on the subject of
dominoes and checkers, and observed in a gen
eral way that "seven up" was a capital game ;
but I repulsed him at every point.
I saw that the Admiral was beginning to
feel hurt by my systematic coldness. We had
always been such hearty friends until now. It
was too bad of me to fret that tender, honest
old heart even for an hour. I really did love
the ancient boy, and when in a disconsolate
way he ordered up a pitcher of beer, I unbent
so far as to partake of some in a teacup. He
recovered his spirits instantly, and took out
his cuddy clay pipe for a smoke.
Between the beer and the soothing fragrance
of the navy-plug, I fell into a pleasanter mood
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 259
myself, and, it being too late now to go to the
theatre, I condescended to say addressing
the northwest corner of the ceiling that
" seven up " was a capital game. Upon this
hint the Admiral disappeared, and returned
shortly with a very dirty pack of cards.
As we played, with varying fortunes, by the
flickering flame of the lamp, he sipped his
beer and became communicative. He seemed
immensely tickled by the fact that I had come
to Boston. It leaked out presently that he
and the Captain had had a wager on the sub
The discovery of my plans and who had dis
covered them were points on which the Admi
ral refused to throw any light. They had been
discovered, however, and the Captain had
laughed at the idea of my running away. Sailor
Ben, on the contrary, had stoutly contended
that I meant to slip cable and be off. Where
upon the Captain offered to bet him a dollar
that I would not go. And it was partly on
account of this wager that Sailor Ben refrained
from capturing me when he might have done
so at the start.
Now, as the fare to and from Boston, with
the lodging expenses, would cost at least five
dollars, I did not see what he gained by win
ning the wager. The Admiral rubbed his nose
260 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
violently when this view of the case presented
I asked him why he did not take me from
the train at the first stopping-place and return
to Rivermouth by the down train at 4.30. He
explained : having purchased a ticket for Bos
ton, he considered himself bound to the own
ers (the stockholders of the road) to fulfil his
part of the contract. To use his own words,
he had " shipped for the viage."
This struck me as being so deliciously funny,
that after I was in bed and the light was out I
could not help laughing aloud once or twice. I
suppose the Admiral must have thought I was
meditating another escape, for he made period
ical visits to my bed throughout the night, sat
isfying himself by kneading me all over that I
had not evaporated.
I was all there the next morning, when Sailor
Ben half awakened me by shouting merrily,
" All hands on deck ! " The words rang in my
ears like a part of my own dream, for I was at
that instant climbing up the side of the Raw-
lings to offer myself as cabin-boy.
The Admiral was obliged to shake me
roughly two or three times before he could
detach me from the dream. I opened my eyes
with effort, and stared stupidly round the
room. Bit by bit my real situation dawned on
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 261
me. What a sickening sensation that is, when
one is in trouble, to wake up feeling free for
a moment, and then to find yesterday s sorrow
all ready to go on again !
" Well, little messmate, how fares it ? "
I was too much depressed to reply. The
thought of returning to Rivermouth chilled
me. How could I face Captain Nutter, to say
nothing of Miss Abigail and Kitty ? How the
Temple Grammar School boys would look at
me ! How Conway and Seth Rodgers would
exult over my mortification ! And what if the
Rev. Wibird Hawkins should allude to me in
his next Sunday s sermon ?
Sailor Ben was wise in keeping an eye on
me, for after these thoughts took possession of
my mind, I wanted only the opportunity to
give him the slip.
The keeper of the lodgings did not supply
meals to his guests ; so we breakfasted at a
small chop-house in a crooked street on our
way to the cars. The city was not astir yet,
and looked glum and careworn in the damp
Here and there as we passed along was a
sharp-faced shop-boy taking down shutters ;
and now and then we met a seedy man who
had evidently spent the night in a doorway.
Such early birds and a few laborers with their
262 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
tin kettles were the only signs of life to be seen
until we came to the station, where I insisted
on paying for my own ticket. I did not relish
being conveyed from place to place, like a
felon changing prisons, at somebody else s
On entering the car I sunk into a seat next
the window, and Sailor Ben deposited himself
beside me, cutting off all chance of escape.
The car filled up soon after this, and I won
dered if there was anything in my mien that
would lead the other passengers to suspect I
was a boy who had run away and was being
A man in front of us he was near-sighted,
as I discovered later by his reading a guide
book with his nose brought the blood to my
cheeks by turning round and peering at me
steadily. I rubbed a clear spot on the cloudy
window-glass at my elbow, and looked out to
There, in the travellers room, was the severe-
looking young lady piling up her blocks of
sponge-cake in alluring pyramids and industri
ously intrenching herself behind a breastwork
of squash pie. I saw with pleasure numerous
victims walk up to the counter and recklessly
sow the seeds of death in their constitutions
by eating her doughnuts. I had got quite in-
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 263
terested in her, when the whistle sounded and
the train began to move.
The Admiral and I did not talk much on the
journey. I stared out of the window most of
the time, speculating as to the probable nature
of the reception in store for me at the terminus
of the road.
What would the Captain say ? and Mr.
Grimshaw, what would he do about it ? Then
I thought of Pepper Whitcomb. Dire was the
vengeance I meant to wreak on Pepper, for
who but he had betrayed me ? Pepper alone
had been the repository of my secret perfidi
ous Pepper !
As we left station after station behind us, I
felt less and less like encountering the mem
bers of our family. Sailor Ben fathomed what
was passing in my mind, for he leaned over and
" I don t think as the Capen will bear down
very hard on you."
But it was not that. It was not the fear of
any physical punishment that might be in
flicted ; it was the sense of my own folly that
was creeping over me ; for during the long,
silent ride I had examined my conduct from
every standpoint, and there was no view I
could take of myself in which I did not look
like a very foolish person indeed.
264 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
As we came within sight of the spires of
Rivermouth, I would not have cared if the up
train, which met us outside the town, had run
into us and ended me.
Contrary to my expectation and dread, the
Captain was not visible when we stepped from
the cars. Sailor Ben glanced among the crowd
of faces, apparently looking for him too. Con-
way was there he was always hanging about
the station and if he had intimated in any
way that he knew of my disgrace and enjoyed
it, I should have walked into him, I am cer
But this defiant feeling entirely deserted me
by the time we reached the Nutter House.
The Captain himself opened the door.
"Come on board, sir," said Sailor Ben,
scraping his left foot and touching his hat
My grandfather nodded to Sailor Ben, some
what coldly I thought, and much to my aston
ishment kindly took me by the hand.
I was unprepared for this, and the tears,
which no amount of severity would have wrung
from me, welled up to my eyes.
The expression of my grandfather s face, as
I glanced at it hastily, was grave and gentle ;
there was nothing in it of anger or reproof. I
followed him into the sitting-room, and, obey-
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 265
ing a motion of his hand, seated myself on the
sofa. He remained standing by the round
table for a moment, lost in thought, then
leaned over and picked up a letter.
It was a letter with a great black seal.
IN WHICH I LEAVE RIVERMOUTH
A LETTER with a great black seal !
I knew then what had happened as well as
I know it now. But which was it, father or
mother? I do not like to look back to the
agony and suspense of that moment.
My father had died at New Orleans during
one of his weekly visits to the city. The letter
bearing these tidings had reached Rivermouth
the evening of my flight had passed me on
the road by the down train.
I must turn back for a moment to that event
ful evening. When I failed to make my ap
pearance at supper, the Captain began to sus
pect that I had really started on my wild tour
southward a conjecture which Sailor Ben s
absence helped to confirm. I had evidently
got off by the train and Sailor Ben had fol
There was no telegraphic communication
between Boston and Rivermouth in those
days ; so my grandfather could do nothing but
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 267
await the result. Even if there had been an
other mail to Boston, he could not have availed
himself of it, not knowing how to address a
message to the fugitives. The post-office was
naturally the last place either I or the Admiral
would think of visiting.
My grandfather, however, was too full of
trouble to allow this to add to his distress.
He knew that the faithful old sailor would not
let me come to any harm, and, even if I had
managed for the time being to elude him, was
sure to bring me back sooner or later.
Our return, therefore, by the first train on
the following day did not surprise him.
I was greatly puzzled, as I have said, by the
gentle manner of his reception ; but when we
were alone together in the sitting-room, and he
began slowly to unfold the letter, I understood
it all I caught a glimpse of my mother s hand
writing in the superscription, and there was
nothing left to tell me.
My grandfather held the letter a few sec
onds irresolutely, and then commenced reading
it aloud ; but he could get no further than the
" I can t read it, Tom," said the old gentle
man, breaking down, " I thought I could"
He handed it to me. I took the letter
mechanically, and hurried away with it to my
268 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
little room, where I had passed so many happy
The week that followed the receipt of this
letter is nearly a blank in my memory. I re
member that the days appeared endless ; that
at times I could not realize the misfortune that
had befallen us, and my heart upbraided me
for not feeling a deeper grief ; that a full sense
of my loss would now and then sweep over me
like an inspiration, and I would steal away to
my chamber or wander forlornly about the gar
dens. I remember this, but little more.
As the days went by my first grief subsided,
and in its place grew up a want which I have
experienced at every step in life from boyhood
to manhood. Often, even now, after all these
years, when I see a lad of twelve or fourteen
walking by his father s side, and glancing mer
rily up at his face, I turn and look after them,
and am conscious that I have missed compan
ionship most sweet and sacred.
I shall not dwell on this portion of my story.
There were many tranquil, pleasant hours in
store for me at that period, and I prefer to
turn to them.
One evening the Captain came smiling into
the sitting-room with an open letter in his
hand. My mother had arrived at New York,
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 269
and would be with us the next day. For the
first time in weeks years, it seemed to me
something of the old cheerfulness mingled with
our conversation round the evening lamp. I
was to go to Boston with the Captain to meet
her and bring her home. I need not describe
that meeting. With my mother s hand in
mine once more, all the long years we had been
parted appeared like a dream. Very dear to
me was the sight of that slender, pale woman
passing from room to room, and lending a pa
tient grace and beauty to the saddened life of
the old house.
Everything was changed with us now. There
were consultations with lawyers, and signing
of papers, and correspondence ; for my father s
affairs had been left in great confusion. And
when these were settled, the evenings were
not long enough for us to hear all my mother
had to tell of the scenes she had passed through
in the ill-fated city.
Then there were old times to talk over, full
of reminiscences of Aunt Chloe and little black
Sam. Little black Sam, by the bye, had been
taken by his master from my father s service
ten months previously, and put on a sugar-
plantation near Baton Rouge. Not relishing
the change, Sam had run away, and by some
mysterious agency got into Canada, from which
270 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
place he had sent back several indecorous mes
sages to his late owner. Aunt Chloe was still
in New Orleans, employed as nurse in one of
the cholera hospital wards, and the Desmou-
lins, near neighbors of ours, had purchased the
pretty brick house among the orange-trees.
How all these simple details interested me
will be readily understood by any boy who has
been long absent from home.
I was sorry when it became necessary to
discuss questions more nearly affecting myself.
I had been removed from school temporarily,
but it was decided, after much consideration,
that I should not return, the decision being
left, in a manner, in my own hands.
The Captain wished to carry out his son s in
tention and send me to college, as I was fully
prepared to undergo the preliminary examina
tions. This, however, would have been a heavy
drain on the modest income reverting to my
mother after the settlement of my father s
estate, and the Captain proposed to take the
expense upon himself, not seeing clearly what
other disposal to make of me.
In the midst of our discussions a letter came
from my Uncle Snow, a merchant in New