Charles Dickens.

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As the captain was slapping his leg, the landlord appeared
with two small candlesticks.

'* Yoar room," said he, '*is at the top of the bouse. Ad
excellent bed, but you^l hear the wind."

•' I've heerd it afore," replied the captain. " Come and
make a passage with me, and you shall hear it"

" Its considered to blow here," said the landlord.

" Weatlier gets its yonng strength here," replied the captain;
** goes Into training for the Atlantic Ocean. Yoors are little
winds just beginning to feel their way and crawl. Make a
voyage with me, and Fll show you a grown-up one out on bo*
siness. But you haven't told my friend where he lies."

** Its the room at the head of the stairs, before yon take
the second staircase through the wall," returned the landlord.
'* You can't mistake it. It's a double-bedded room ; becaose
there's no other."

" The room where the sea-faring man is ?" said the captain.

" The room where the sea-faring man is."

** I hope he mayn't finish telling his story in his sleep," re-
marked the captain. " Shall I turn into the room where the
sea-faring man is, Alfred f"

** No, Captain Jorgan, why should you t There wonld be
little fear of his waking me, even if he told his whole story oat"

'* He's In the bed nearest the door," said the landlord.
"I've been in to look at him once, and he's sound enoagh.
Oood-night, gentlemen."

The captain immediately shook hands with the landlord ia
quite an enthusiastic manner, and having performed that na>
tional ceremony as if he had had no opportunity of performing
St for a long time, accompanied his young friend np stairs.

"Something tells me," said the captain as they went, "tlial
Misa Kitty Tregarthen's marriage ain't put off for long, aad
that we shall light on what we want."

' I hope so. When, do you think f"



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A HESSAGB FROM THE SEA. ^^^

**Wa'al, I couldn't just say when, but soon. Here's your
room," said the captain, softly opening the door and looking
id; "and here's the berth of the sea-faring man. I wonder
what like he is. He breathes deep ; don't he ?"

" Sleeping like a child, to judge from the sound," said the
yonng fisherman.

" Dreaming of home maybe," returned the captain. " Can't
see him. Sleeps a deal more wholesomely than Arson Paryis,
bat a'most as sound ; don't he f Good-night, fellow- traveler."

" Good-night, Captain Jorgan, and many, many thanks I"

** I'll wait till I 'am 'em, boy, afore I take 'em," returned
the captain, clapping him cheerfully on the back. " Pleasant
dreams of — ^you know who 1"

When the young fisherman had closed the door, the captain
waited a moment or two, listening for any stir on the part of
the anknown sea-faring man. But none being audible, the
captain pursued the way to his own chamber.



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CHAPTER IT.

THS 6SA-VABINO MAN.

Who w»s the Sea-faring Man t Aad what might be baT« to
say for himself ? He aoKwers those questions in his own words :

I begin by mentioning what happened on mj jonmey north-
ward, from Falmonth in Cornwall, to Steepwajs in Devonshire.
I ha?e no occasion to say (being here) that it brought nie last
night to Laurean. I had business in hand which was part
very serious, and part (as I hoped) very joyful — and this busi-
ness, you will please to remember, was the cause of my journey.

After landing at Falmouth I traveled on foot ; because of the
expense of riding, and because I had anxieties heavy on my
mind, and walking was the best way I knew of to lighten theau
The first two days of my journey the weather was fine and solt^
the wind being mostly light airs from south, and south and by
west. On the third day I took a wrong turning, and had to
fetch a long circuit to get right again. Toward evening, while
I was still on the road, the wind shifted ; and a sea-fog came
rolling in on the land. I went on through, what I ask leave
to call, the white darkness ; keeping the sound of the sea on my
left hand for a guide, and feeling those anxieties of mine before
mentioned, pulling heavier and heavier at my mind, as the fog
thickened and the wet trickled down my face.

It was still early in the evening, when I heard a dog hark,
away in the distance, on the right-hand side of me. FoHowta^
the sound as well as I could, and shouting to the dog, from
time to time, to set him barking again, I stumbled up at last
against the back of a house ; and, hearing voices inside, groped
my way round to the door, and knocked on it smartly with the
flat of my hand.

The door was opened by a slip-slop young hossey In a torn
(816)



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A MBSSAaS FROM THB SBA. 817

gown ; and the first inquiries I made of faer discovered to me
that the house was an inn.

Before I could ask more questions the landlord opened tlio
parlor of the inn and came out. A clamor of voices, and a fine
comforting smell of fire and grog and tobacco came out, also,
along with him.

"The tap-room fire's out/' says the landlord. ''You don't
think you would dry more comfortable, like, if you went to bed V*
■ays be, looking hard at me.

*• No,*' says I, looking hard at him, " I don't."

Before more words were spoken a jolly voice hailed us firom
rnside the parlor.

"What's the matter, landlord ?" says the jolly voice. **Who
w it ?"

*' A sea-faring man, by the looks of htm," says the landlord,
turning round from me, and speaking into the parlor.

*' Let's have the sea-faring man in," says the voice. " Let^s
^ote him free of the CInb, for this night only."

A lot of other voices thereupon said, "Hearl hear!" in a
iiolemii manner, as if it was church service. After which there
was a hammering, a« if it was a trunk-maker's shop. After
which the landlord took roe by the arm, gave me a push into the
parlor, and there I was, free of the Club.

The cliange from the fog outside to the warm room and the
shining candles so completely dased me, that I stood blinking
at the company more like an owl than a man. Upon which
the company again said, "Hear I hear!" Upon which I re-
turned for answer, "Hear! hear!" — considering those words
to mean, in the Club's language, something similar to "Howp
d'ye-do." The landlord then took me to a round table by the
^re, where I got my supper, together with the information that
my bedroom, when X wanted it, was number four, up stairs.

I noticed before I fell to with my knife and fork, thtit the
room was full, and that the chairman at the top of the table was
t4to man with the jolly voice, and was seemingly amusing the
company by telling them a story. I paid more attention to my
supper than to what he was saying ; and all I can now report
of H ia, tdiat hisstory^telling and my eating and drinking both
came to an end together.



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»18 A MESSAQB PROM THE SEA.

"Now," says the chairman, "I have tdd mj story tostirt
you all. Who comes next ?" He took up a teetotum, and gate
it a spiu on the table. When it toppled orer, it fell opposite
me ; upon which the chairman said, " It's jour tarn next
Order 1 order 1 I call on the sea-faring man to tell the second
story I" He finished the words off with a knock of his hammer;
and the Club (having nothing else to say, as I suppose) tried
back, and once again sang out altogether, '* Hear 1 hear !"

'' I hope you will please to let me off," I said to the chair*
man, *' for the reason that I have got no story to tell."

"No story to tell I" says he. "A sailor without a story I
Who ever heard of such a thing ? Nobody I"

*' Nobody,'' says the Club, bursting out altogether at last
with a new word, by way of a change.

I can't say I quite relished the chairman's talking of me as if
I was before the mast. A man likes his true qualitj to be
known, when he is publicly spoken to among a party of strangers.
I made my true quality known to the chairman and company to
these words :

" All men who follow the sea, irentlemen, are sailors," I said.
'* But there's degrees aboard ship as well as ashore. My
rating, if yon please, is the rating of a second mate."

"Ay, ay, surely ?" says the chairman. " Wliere did yoa leave
your ship?"

** At the bottom of the sea," I made answer — which wis, I
am sorry to say, only too true.

"Wniat!" you've been wrecked?" says he. "Tell os tH
about it. A shipwreck story is just the sort of story we Kke.
Silence there all down the table \ — silence for the second mate !*

The Club, upon this, instead of keeping silence, broke out re-
herrfently with another new word, and said, " Chair !" After
which every man suddenly held his peace, and looked at ree.

I did a very foolish thing. Without stopping to take conssel
with myself, I started off at score, and did just what the chitii>>
man had bidden me. If they had waited the whrle night ton;
for it, I should never have told them the story they wanted froa
roe at first, having all my life been a wretched bad hand at soek
matters — for the reason, as I take it, that a story is boond to
be something which is not true. But when I found the eo»-



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A HBSSAGB FROM THE SEA. 319

pan J willing, on a sodden, to put up with nothing better than
the account of my shipwreck (which is not a story at aJl), the
unexpected lack of being let off with only telling the truth about
myself was too much of a temptation for me — so I up and
told it.

I got on well enough with the storm, and the striking of the
vessel, and the strange chance, afterward, which proved to be
the saving of my life — the assembly all listening (to my great
Borprise) as if they had never heard any thing of the sort before.
Bat when the necessity came next for going further than this,
aud for telling them what had happened to me after the saving
of my life — or, to put it plainer, for telling them what place I
was cast away on, and what company I was cast away in — the
words died straight off on my lips. For this reason — namely —
that those particulars of my statement made up just that part
of it which I couldn't, and durstn't, let out to strangers — no, not
if every man among them had offered me a hundred pounds
apiece, on the spot, to do it 1

"Go on I" says the chairman. ** What happened next? How
did you get on shore ?"

Feeling what a fool I had been to run myself headlong into
a scrape, for want of thinking before I spoke, I now cast about
discreetly in my mind for the best means of finishing off-hand
without letting out a word to the company concerning those
particulars before mentioned. I was some little time before
seeing my way to this: keeping the chairman and company,
all the while, waiting for an answer. The Clnb, losing pa«
tience, in consequence, got from staring hard at me, to drum-
ming with their feet, and then to calling out lustily, " Go on I
go on I Chair I Order 1" — and such like. In the m\^ of this
childish hubbub I saw my way to what I considered to oe rather
a neat finish — and got on my legs to ease them all off with it
handsomely.

" Hear ! hear I" says the Club. — " He's going on again at
last."

*' Gentlemen !" I made answer, "with your permission I will
now conclude by wishing you all good-night 1" Saying which
words, I gave them a friendly nod, to make things pleasant —
and walked straight to the door. It's hardly to be believed—



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820 A MESSAGE FROM THB SEA.

though Devertbeless qaite true — Uiet these curioos men all
howled and groaned at me directly, as if I had done them
some grievoQS injnry. Thinking I woald trj to padfy them
with their own favorite catch-word, I said, ** Hear ! hear !" as
civilly as might be, whereupon they all returned for smwer
" Oh I oh I" I Dever belonged to aOtob of any kind myself;
and, after what I saw of thai Olnb, I don't care if I never do.

My bedroom, when I foand ray way up to it» was large and
airy enough, bat not over-clean. There were two beds in it,
not over-clean either. Both being empty, I had my choice.
One was near the window, and one near the door. I thonghi
the bed near the door looked a triie the sweetest of the two,
and took it.

After falling asleep, it was the gray of the morning before I
woke. When I had fairly opened my eyes and shook op ny
memory into telling me where I was, I made two diacoTeries.
First, that the room was a deal colder in the new rooming than
it had been overnight. Second, that the other bed near the
window had got some one sleeping in it. Not that I could see
the man from where I lay; but I heard his breathing plain
enough. He must have come up into the room, of coarse, al^r
I had fallen asleep— and he had tumbled himaelf quietly into
bed without disturbing me. There was nothing vonderfhl ia
that ; and nothing wonderful in the landlord letting the empty
bed if he could find a customer (or it I tamed and tried to
go asleep again ; bat I was oat of sorts — ^oi of sorts so badly,
that even the breathing of the man in the other bed fretted and
worried me. After tumbling and tossing for a quarter of at
hour or more, I got up for a change; and walked softly la
my sto^ngs to the window to look at the morning.

The neavens were brightening into daylight, and the misU
were blowing off, past the window, like pnffs of smoke. Whea
1 got even with the second bed I stopped to look at the warn
in H. He lay, sound asleep, turned toward the window ; and
the end of the counterpane was drawn np over the lower half
of his face. 6on>ething struck me, on a sudden, in bis hair and
his forehead ; and, though not an inquisitive man by natoNi
I stretched out my hand to the eod of the coaaterpaiie^ m
apite of myself.



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A ME6SA6E FROM THE SKA. 821

I oDCOTered his face softly ; and there, in the morniog light,
1 saw my brother, Alfred Raybrock.

What I ought to have done, or what other men might have
done in my place, I don't know. What I really did, was to
drop back a step — to steady myself, with my hand, on the sill
of the window — and to stand so, looking at him. Three years
ago I had said good-by to ray wife, to my little child, to my
old mother, and to brother Alfred here, asleep nndcr my eyes.
For all those three years no news from me had reached them
— and the underwriters, as I knew, must have long since re-
ported that the ship I sailed in was lost, and that all hands on
board had perished. My heart was heavy when I thought of
my kindred at home, and of the weary time they must have
waited and sorrowed before they gave me up for dead. Twice
I reached out my hand to wake Alfred, and to ask him about
my wife and ray child ; and twice I drew it back again, in fear
of what might happen if he saw me, standing by his bed-head
in the gray morning, like Hugh Raybrock risen up from the
grare.

I drew my hand back the second time, and waited a min-
ute. In that minute he woke. I had not moved, or spoken a
word, or touched him — I had only looked at him longingly.
If sQcb things could be, I should say it was my looking that
woke him. His eyes, when they opened nnder mine, passed on
a sodden from fast asleep to broad awake. They first settled
on my face with a startled look — which passed directly. He
lifted himself on his elbow, and opened his lips to speak, but
never said a word. His eyes strained and strained into mine ;
and his face turned all over of a ghastly white. "Alfred I" I
flaid, "don't you know me T' There seemed to be a deadly
terror pent up in him, and 1 thonght my voice might set it
free. I took fast hold of him by the bands, and spoke again.
" Alfred f I said-
Ob, sirs, where can a man like me find words to tell all that
was said and all that was thonght between us two brothers f
Please to pardon my not saying more of it than 1 say here.
We sat down together side by side. The poor lad burst out
crying — and got vent that way. I kept my hold of his hands,
sod waited « bit before I spoke to him again. I think I was



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322 A MESSAGE PROM THE SEA.

worstoff nowof the two — no tenrs came to help me — 1 haven't
got my brother's quickness any way ; and my troubles have
roughened and hardened me outside. But God knows I felt
it keenly ; all the more keenly, maybe, because I was slow to
show it.

After a little, I pot the qoestioDS to him which I had beei
longing to ask from the time when I first saw his face on th>
pillow. Had they all given me op at home for dead (I asked) f
Yes ; after long, long hoping, one by one they had given me
np — my wife (God bless her!) last of all. I meant to ask
next if my wife was alive and well ; bat, try as I might, I coold
only say *' Margaret ?'' — and look hard in my brother's face.
He knew what I meant. Yes (he said) she was living ; she was
at home; she was in her widow's weeds — poor sool; her
widow's weeds I I got on better with my next question abont
the child. Was it born alive? Yes. Boy or girl f Girl. And
living now ; and much grown t Living, surely, and grown—
poor little thing, what a qoestion to ask ! — grown of coarse,
in three years ! And mother I Well, mother was a trifle fallen
away, and more silent within herself than she oted to be—
fretting at times ; fretting (like my wife) on nights when the sea
rose, and the windows shook and shivered in the wind. There*
upon my brother and I waited a bit again — I with my qae»>
tions, and he with his answers — and while we waited, I thanked
God, inwardly, with all my heart and soul, for bringing me
back, living, to wife and kindred, while wife and kindred were
living too.

My brother dried the tears off his face, and looked at me a
little. Then he turned aside suddenly, as if he remembered
something, and stole his hand in a hurry under the pillow of hit
bed. * Mothing came oat from below the pillow but his black
neck-handkerchief, which he now vnfolded slowly, looking at
me all the while with something strange in his f»ee tkU I
couldn't make out.

''What are you doing?" I asked him. ''What are yoa
looking at me like that for ?"

Instead of making answer he took a crumpled morsel of
paper out of his neck-handkerchief, opened it carefally, and
held it to the light to let me see what it was. Lord in faeafeal



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A MB88AGB FROM THB SEA. 828

—my own writing — the morsel of poper I had committed, long,
long since, to the mercy of the deep. Thoosands and tbon-
sands of miles away I had trusted that Message to the waters
— and here it was now, in my brother's hands 1 A chilly
fear came oyer me at the seeing it again. Scrap of pai>er
as it was, it looked to my eyes like the ghost of my own past
self, gone home before me inrisibly over the grtat wastes of
the sea.

My broth^ pointed down solemnly to the writing.

" Hngh,"V be said, " were yoa in yonr right mind when
you wrote those words V*

"Tell me, first,'* I made answer, **how and when the Mes-
sage came to yon. I can't qniet myself fit to talk till I know
that."

He told me how the paper had come to hand — also how his
good friend, the captain, having promised to help him, was
then under the same roof with our two selves. Bat there he
stopped. It was not till later in the day that I heard of what
had happened (through this dreadful doubt about the money)
in the matter of his sweet-heart and his marriage.

The knowledge that the Message had reached him by mortal
means — on the word of a seaman, I half doubted it when I
first set eyes on the paper! — eased me in my mind; and I
now did my best to quiet Alfred, in my tnrn. I told him
that I was in my right senses, though sorely troubled, when my
baud had written those words. Also, that where the writing
was rubbed out, I could tell him, for his necessary guidance
and mine, what once stood in the empty places. Also, that I
knew no more what the real truth might be than he did, tiU
inquiry was made, and the slander on father's good name was
dragged boldly into daylight to show itself for what it was
worth. Lastly, that all the voyage home there was one hope
and one determination uppermost in my mind — the hope that
I might get safe to England, and find my wife and kindred
alive to take me back among them again — ^the determination
that I would put the doubt about father's five hundred pound
to the proof, if ever my feet touched English land once more.

'* Come out with me now, Alfred," I said, after winding up



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824 A MESSAGE FROM THE SEA.

I» above, "and I^t roe tell joq in the quiet of the morniog hew
that Message came to be written and committed to the sea."

We went down stairs eoftlj, and let earselves cot withoat
disturbing any one. The ann was just rising when w« le(i the
village and took oar way slowly over the cliffs. As soon as
the sea began to open on os I returned to that true story of
mine which I had left but half told the uight before — and
this time I went through with it to the end.

I shipped, as you may remember (were my first words to
Alfred), in a second mate's berth, on board the Peruvian, aiae
hundred tons' burden. We carried an assorted cargo, aod we
were bound, round the Horn, to Truxillo and Ouayaquil, oo
the western coast of South America. From this last port-
namely, Gaayaquil — we were to go back to Truxillo, and there
to take in another cargo for the return voyage. Those wen
all the instructions communicated to me when I signed articles
with the owners, in London city, three years ago.

After we had been, I think, a week at sea, I heard from
the first mate — who had himself heard it from the captain —
that the supercargo we were taking with us, on the outward
voyage, was to be left at T'ruxillo, and that another supercargo
(also connected with our firm, and latterly employed bj theia
as their foreign agent) was to ship with us at that port for the
voyage home. His name on the captain's instructions was* Mr.
Lawrence Clissold. None of us had ever set eyes oo him to
our knowledge, and none of us knew more about him than
what I have told you here.

We had a wonderful voyage out — especially round the Horn
I never before saw such fair weather in that infernal latitude,
and I never expect to see the like again. We foUowed our
instructions to the letter ; discharging our cargo in fine coin
dition, and returning to Truxillo to load again as directed.
At this place I was so unfortunate as to be seized with the
fever of the country, which laid mc on my back, while we were
in harbor ; and which only let me return to my duty after we
had been ten days at sea, on the voyage hpme again. For this
reaspn, the first morning when I wa^ able to get on deck



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A 1IB99A^B FBOM THB 8BA. 825

alto the first time of my settings eyes ou our new sapercftrgo,
Mr. Lawrence Clissold.

I found him to be a long, lean, wiry man, with some com*
plaint in hia eyes which forced him to wear spectacles of bine
glass. His age appeared to be fifty-six, or thereabouts ; but
he might well have been mora There was not abore a hand-
ful of gray hair, altogether, on his bald head^-and, as for the
wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and the sides of his mouth,
if be could have had a pound apiece in his pocket for every
one of them, he might have retired from business from that
tioM forth. Judging by certain signs in his face^ and by a sus-
picious morning*tremble in bis hands, I set him down, in my
own mind (rightly enough, as it afterwards turned out), for
a drinker. In one word, I didn't like the looks of the new
snpercargo — and, on the first day when I got on deck, I found
thai he had reasons of his own for paying me back in my own
coin, and not liking my looks, either.

"I've been asking the captain about you," were his first
words to me in return for my civilly wishing him good-morning.
"Yonr name's Raybrock, I hear. Are you any relation to the
late Hugh Raybrock, of Barnstaple, Devonshire ?"

''Rather a near relation," I made answer. " I am the late
Hugh Ray brock's eldest son."

There was no telling how his eyes looked, because they were
hidden by his blue spectacles — but I saw him wince at the
mouth when I gave him that reply.

" Your father ended by failing in business, didn't he ?" was
the next question the supercargo put to me.

" Who tokl you he failed ?" I asked, sharply enough.

"Oh I I heard it»" says Mr. Lawrence Clissold, both looking
and speaking as if tie was glad to have heard it, and he hoped
it was true.

" Whoever told you my father failed in business told you a
lie," I said. "His business fell off toward the last years of his
life — I don't deny it. But every creditor he had was honestly



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