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but still legible, and gave both his legs such tremendons slapi
that they were heard far off in the bay, and never accounted for.

" A quarter past five p.m.," said the captain, pnlling oat kit
watch, " and that's thirty-three hours and a quarter in all, and
a pritty run !"

How they were all overpowered with delight and trinaph,*



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A MBSSAGB FROM THB SBA. 359

how the money was restored, 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 repatation of their forgotten old clerk ;
how Kitty came in, and was nearly torn to pieces, and the mar-
riage was reappointed, needs not to be told. Nor how she
and the young fisherman went home to the post-oflSce to pre-
pare 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 hare
the domestic coast entirely to himself. How he availed him-
self of it is all that remains to tell.

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

" May I come in ?"

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

" No you don't, ma'am," said the captain, ** for I won't let
yon. Wa'al to be sure I" By this time he had taken a chair
on the hearth between them.

** Never felt such an evil spirit in the whole course of my
life I There I I tell you 1 I could a'most have cut my own
connection — Like the dealer in my country, away West, who,
when he had let himself be outdone in a bargain, said to him-
self, 'Now I tell yon what I I'll never speak to you again.'
And he never did, but joined a settlement of oysters, and trans-
lated the multiplication-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 con-
tradict 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



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360 i^ MB8SAGB FROM THB SEA.

'' Not a long song, my dear.

Silas Jorgan
Played the organ.

That's abont all. And sometimes I tell her stories. Stories
of sailors supposed to be lost, and recovered after all hope was
abandoued." Here the captaiD musingly went back to his
song:

'' Silas Jorgan
Played the organ.''

— repeating it with his eyes on the fire, as he softly danced
the child on his knee. For he felt that Margaret bad stopped
working.

'* Yes," said the captain, still looking at the fire. " I make
np stories and tell 'em to that child. Stories of shipwreck oa
desert island, and long delay in getting back to civilised lands.
It is to stories the like of that^ mostly, that

Silas Jorgan
Plays the organ."

There was no light in the room but the light of the 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
liight departed. The captain felt that Margaret's eyes were
npon him, and thought it discreetest to keep his own eyes oi
the fire.

'' Yes ; I make 'em np," said the captain. " I make ap
stories of brothers brought together by the good providence
of God. Of sons brought back to mothers — husbands brought
back to wives — fathers raised from the deep, for little childrea
like herself."

Margaret's touch was on his arm, and he could not choose
but look round now. Next moment her hand moved implor-
ingly to his breast, and she was on her knees before hin
sapporting the mother, who was also kneeling.



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A MESSAGB FROM THE 8BA. ^^^

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

Silas Jorgan
Plajred 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 fortune well. Could
yon 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 I say the word ?"

"Alive?"

"Yes!"

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

"He's no further off," resumed the captain, "than my coun-
try. Indeed, he's no further off than his own native country.
To tell you the truth, he's no further off than Falmouth. In-
deed, 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 he 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 tre-
mendously.

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



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S^ A MESSAQB FROM THE 8BA.

Censas of its popnlation, and iovited the whole withoat excep-
tion, to come and stay several months with him at Salem,
Mass., XJ. 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
arras round 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 ooble captain
names. And there the captain waved his hat over his head
three final times ; and there he was last seen, going away ac-
companied 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 tke
name of that infant fisherman was Jorgan Ray brock.



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WRECK OF THE GOLDEN MARY.



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THE



WRECK OF THE GOLDEN MARY.



THE WRECK.



I WAS apprenticed to the sea when I was twelve yean old,
and I have encountered a great deal of rough weather, both
literal and metaphorical. It has always been my opinioD since
I first possessed such a thing as an opinion, that the man who
knows only one subject is next tiresome to the man who knows
no subject. Therefore, in the course of my life I hare taught
myself whatever I could, and although I am not an educated
man, I am able, I am thankful to say, to have an intelligent
interest in most things.

A person might suppose, from reading the above, that I an
in the habit of holding forth about number one. That is not
the case. Just as if I was to come into a room among stran-
gers, and must either be introduced or introduce myself, so I
have taken the liberty of passing these few remarks, simply and
(864)



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WRECK OP THE GOLDEN MARY. 866

plainly, that it may be known who and what I am. I will add
no more of the sort than that my name is William George
Rurender, that 1 was born at Penrith liatf a year after my own
father was drowned, and that I am on the second day of this
present blessed Christmas week of one thousand eight handred
and fifty-six, fifty-six years of age.

When the rumor first went flying up and down that there was
gold in California — which, as most people know, was before it
was discovered in the British colony of Australia — I was in the
West Indies, trading among the Islands. Being in command
and likewise part-owner of a smart schooner, I had my work
cut out for me, and I was doing it Consequently, gold in
California was no business of mine.

But, by the time when I came home to England again, the
thing was as clear as your hand held up before you at noon-day.
There was California gold in the museums and in the goldsmiths'
shops, and the very first time I went upon 'Change, I met a
friend of mine, (a seafaring man like myself), with a Californian
BQgget banging to his watch-chain. I handled it It was aa
like a peeled walnut with bits unevenly broken off here and
there, and then electrotyped all over, as ever I saw any thing in
my life.

I am a single man (she was too good for this world and for me,
and she died six weeks before our marriage-day), so when I am
ashore, I live in my house at Poplar. My house at Poplar is
taken care of and kept in ship-shape by an eld lady who was
my mother's maid b^ore I was bom. She is as handsome and
as upright as any old lady in the world. She is as fond of me
as if she had ever had an only son, and I was he. Well do I
know whenever I sail that she never lays down her head at
night without having said, " Mercifiil Lord 1 bless and preserve
William George Ravender, and send him safe home, through
Christ onr Saviour." I have thought of it in many a dangerous
moment, when it has done me no harm, I am sure.

In my house at Poplar, along with this old lady, I lived quioi
for best part of a year : having had a long spell of it among
the Islands, and having (which was very uncommon in me)
taken the fever rather badly. At last, being strong and hearty,
and having read every book I could lay bold of, right out, I



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866 WRBCK OP THE GOLDEN MA^RT.

was walking down Leadenball street id the city of London,
thinking of tnrning-to again, when I met what I call Smithiek
and Watersby of Liverpool. I chanced to lift op my eyes from
looking in at a ship's chronometer in a window, and I saw him
bearing down upon me, head on.

It is, personally, neither Smithiek nor Watersby that I here
mention, nor was I ever acquainted with any man of either of
those names, nor do I think that there has been any one of
either of those names in that Liverpool House for years back.
But it is in reality the House itself that I refer to ; and a wiser
merchant or a truer gentleman never stepped.

"My dear Captain Ravender,'* says he, "of all the men on
earth, I wanted to see you most. I was on my way to you."

"Well," says I, "that looks as if yon loere to see me, don*t
it ?" With that I put my arm in his, and we walked on toward
the Royal Exchange, and, when we got there, walked op and
down at the back of it, where the clock-tower is. We walked
an hour or more, for he had much to say to me. He had a
scheme for chartering a new ship of their own to take out a
cargo to the diggers and emigrants in California, and to haj
and bring back gold. Into the particulars of that scheme I will
not enter, and I have no right to enter. All I say of it is, that
it was a very original one, a very fine one, a very sound ODe,
and a very lucrative one, beyond doubt

He imparted it to me as freely as if I had been a part of him-
self. After doing so, he made me the handsomest sharing offer
that ever was made to me, boy or man — or I believe to any other
captain in the Merchant Navy — and he took this round term to
finish with :

" Ra vender, you are well awar^ that the lawlessness of that
coast and country, at present, is as special as the circumstancef
in which it is placed. Crews of vessels outward-bound desert
as soon as they make the land ; crews of vessels hometrard-
bound ship at enormous wages, with the express inteDtioQ of
murdering the captain and seizing the gold freight ; no man
can trust another, and the devil seems let loose. Now,^ says
he, "you know my opinion of you, and yon know I am only
expressing it, and with no singularity, when I tell you that yoa
are almost the only man on whose integrity, discretion, an^



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•MY DBAB CAPPAIN RA VENDEE," SAYS HE, '* OP ALL THE MEN
ON EARTH, I WANTED TO SEE YOU MOST!"



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WRECK OP THB GOLDEN MART. 867

energy — " Ac, Ac. For I don't want to repeat what he said,
though I was and am sensible of it.

Notwithstanding my being, as I have mentioned, quite ready
for a voyage, still I had some donbts of this voyage. Of coarse
I knew, without being told, that there were peculiar difficulties
and dangers in it a long way over and above those which attend
all voyages. It must not be supposed that I was afraid to face
them ; but, in my opinion, a man has no manly motive or sns-
tainment in his own breast for facing dangers unless he has well
considered what they are, and is able quietly to say to himself,
** None of these perils can now take me by surprise ; I shall
know what to do for the best in any of them ; all the rest lies
in the higher and gpreater hands to which I humbly commit
myself." On this principle I have so attentively considered
(regarding it as my duty) all the hazards I have ever been able
to think of, in the ordinary way of storm, shipwreck, and fire
at sea, that I should be prepared to do, in any of those cases,
whatever could be done, to save the lives entrusted to my
charge.

As I was thoughtful, my good friend proposed that he should
leave me to walk there as long as I liked, and that I should
dine with him by-and-by at his club in Pall Mall. I accepted
the invitation, and I walked up and down there, quarter-deck
fashion, a matter of a couple of hours ; now and then looking
up at the weathercock as I might have looked up aloft — and
now and then taking a look into Cornhill, as I might have taken
a look over the side.

All dinner-time, and all after dinner-time, we talked it over
again. I gave him my views of bis plan, and he very much
approved of the same. I told him I had nearly decided, but
not quite. "Well, well," says he, "come down to Liverpool
to-morrow with me, and see the Golden Mary." I liked the
name (her name was Mary, and she was golden, if golden stands
for good), so I began to feel that it was almost done when I
said I would go to Liverpool. On the next morning but one
we were on board the Golden Mary. I might have known,
from his asking me to come down and see her, what she was.
I declare her to have been the completest and most exquisite
beauty that I ever set my eyes upon.



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868 WRECK OP THE GOLDEN MARY.

We had inspected every timber in her, and come back to the
gangway to go ashore from the dock-basin, when I put ont my
hand to my friend. "Touch upon it," says I, "and toncli
heartily. I take command of this ship, and I am hers and
yours, if I can get John Steadiman for my chief mate."

John Steadiman had sailed with me foar voyages. The firii
voyage John was my third mate ont to China, and came hone
second. The other three voyages he was my first officer. At
this time of chartering the GK>lden Mary, he was aged thirty-
two. A bridk, bright blue-eyed fellow, a very neat figure and
rather under the middle size, never out of the way and never in
it, a face that pleased everybody and that all children took to,
a habit of going about singing as cheerily as a blackbird, aad
a perfect sailor.

We were in one of those Liverpool hackney-coaches in less than
a minute, and we crnised about in her upward of three hoare
looking for John. John had come home from Van Diemen's
Land barely a month before, and I had heard of hina as taking
a frisk in Liverpool. We asked after him, among many other
places, at the two boarding-houses he was fondest of, and we
found he had had a week's spell at each of them ; bat he had
gone here and gone there, and had set off '* to lay oat on the
maiu-to'-gallant-yard of the highest Welsh mountain," (so he
had told the people of the house), and where he might be then,
or when he might come back, nobody could tell us. Bat it wu
surprising, to be sure, to see how every face brightened the
moment there was mention made of the name of Mr. Steadi-
man.

We were taken aback at meeting with no better luck, and
we had wore ship and put her head for my friend's, when, as we
were jogging through the streets, I clap my eyes on John him-
self coming out of a toyshop! He was carrying a little boj,
and conducting two uncommon pretty women to their coach,
and he told me afterward that he had never in his life seen
one of the three before, but that he wag so taken with them oo
looking in at the toyshop while they were buying the child i
cranky Noah's Ark, very much down by the head, that he had
gone in and asked the ladies' permission to treat him to a tole-
rably correct Cutter there was in the window, in order that



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WRECK OF THE GOLDEN MARY. 869

8ueh a hanclsorae boy might not grow up with a lubberly idea
of naval architecture.

We stood off and on until the ladies' coachman began to give
way, and then we hailed John. On his coming aboard of ua,
I told him, very gravely, what I had said to my friend. It
struck him, as he said himself, amidships. He was quite shaken
by it. ** Captain Ravender," were John Steadiman's words,
''such an opinion from you is true commendation, and V\\ sail
round the world with you for twenty years if you hoist the sig-
nal, and stand by you forever I'' And now indeed I felt that
it was done, and that the GK>lden Mary was afloat.

Grass never -grew yet under the feet of Smithick and
Watersby. The riggers were out of that ship in a fortnight's
time, and we had begun taking in cargo. John was always
aboard, seeing every thing stowed with his own eyes ; and when*
ever I went aboard myself, early or late, whether he was below in
the hold, or on deck at the hatchway, or overhauling bis cabin,
nailing up pictures in it of the Blush Roses of England, the
Blue Belles of Scotland, and the female Shamrock of Ireland ;
of a certainty I heard John singing like a blackbird.

We had room for twenty passengers. Our sailing advertise-
ment was no sooner out, than we might have taken these,
twenty times over. In entering our men, I and John (both
together) picked them, and we entered none but good hands —
as good as were to be found in that port And so, in a good
ship of the best build, well owned, well arranged, well officered,
well manned, well found in all respects, we parted with our
pilot at a quarter past four o'clock in the afternoon of the
seventh of March* one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one,
and fitood with a fair wind out to sea.

It may be easily believed that up to that time I had had no
leisure to be intimate with my passengers. The most of them
were then in their berths sea-sick ; however, in going among
them, telling them what was good for them, persuading them
not to be there, but to come up on deck and feel the breeze^
and in rousing them with a joke, or a eomfortable word, I made
acquaintance with them, perhaps, in a more friendly and con-
fidential way from the first, than I might have done at the
cabin table.



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870 WRECK OP THE GOLDEN MART.

Of my passengers, I need onlj pariicalarize, just at fvn*
sent, a bright-eyed blooming joang wife who was going out to
join her husband in California, taking with her their onljcbik),
a little girl of three years old, whom he had never seen ; t
sedate young woman in black, some five years older (about
thirty, as I should say), who was going out to join a brother;
and an old gentleman, a good deal like a hawk if his eyes htd
been better and not so red, who was always talking, morning,
noon, and night, about the gold discovery. Bat, whether be
was making the voyage, thinking his old arms coald dig for
gold, or whether his speculation was to buy it, or to barter for
it, or to cheat for it, or to snatch it anyhow from other peopk,
was his secret. He kept his secret.

These three and the child were the soonest well. The dkOd
was a most engaging child, to be sure, and very fond of me;
though I am bound to admit that John Steadiman and I were
borne on her pretty little books in reverse order, and that be
was captain there, and I was mate. It was beautiful to watek
her with John, and it was beautiful to watch John with ber
Few would have thought it possible to see John playing at
bo-peep round the mast, that he was the man who had cai^t
up an iron bar and struck a Malay and a Maltese dead, as tbej
were gliding with their knives down the cabin stair aboard tbe
barque Old England, when the captain lay ill in hh cot, of
Saugar Point. But he was ; and give him his back against a
bulwark, he would have done the same by half a dozen of tbesi
The name of the young mother was Mrs. Atherfield, the
of the young lady in black was Miss Coleshaw, and the
of the old gentleman was Mr. Rarx.

As the child had a quantity of shining fair hair, closteriag
in curls all about her face, and as her name was Liocy, Steadi-
man gave her the name of the (}olden Lucy. So, we had tbe
Golden Lucy and the Qolden Mary ; and John kept op the
idea to that extent as he and the child went playing about tbe
decks, that I believe she used to think the ship was alive sooie-
how — a sister or companion, going to the same place as be-
self. She liked to be by the wheel ; and in fine weather, I baTO
often stood by the man whose trick it was at the wheel, only to
hear her, sitting near my feet, talking to the ship Never bad



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WRECK OF THB GOLDEN MARY. 871

a child such a doll before, I suppose ; bat she made a doll of
the GoldeD Mary, aud used to dress her up by tying ribbons
and little bits of finery to the belaying- pins ; and nobody ever
mored them, unless it was to save them from being blown away.

Of coarse I took charge of the two young women, and I
ealled them " my dear," and they never minded, knowing that
whatever I said was said in a fatherly and protecting spirit I
gave them their places on each side of me at dinner, Mrs.
Atherfield on my right and Miss Ooleshaw on my left; and I
directed the unmarried lady to serve out the breakfast, and the
married lady to serve out the tea. Likewise I said to my black
steward in their presence, ** Tom ISuow, these two ladies are
equally the mistresses of this house, and do you obey their orders
equally ;" at which Tom laughed, and they all laughed.

Old Mr. Barx was not a pleasant man to look at, nor yet to
talk to, or to be with, for no one could help seeing that he was
a sordid and selfish character, and that he had warped further
and further out of the straight with time. Not but what he
was on his best behavior with us, as everybody was ; for we
had no bickering among us, for'ard or aft. I only mean to
say, he was not the man one would have chosen for a messmate.
If choice there had been, one might even have gone a few
points out of one's course, to say, ** No I Not him 1" But,
there was one curious inconsistency in Mr. Rarx. That was,
that he took an astonishing interest in the child. He looked,
and I may add, he was, one of the last of men to care at all for
a child, or to care much for any human creature. Still, he
went so far as to be habitually uneasy, if the child was long on
deck, out of his sight. He was always afraid of her falling
overboard, or falling down a hatchway, or of a block or what
not coming down upon her from the rigging in the working of
the ship or of her getting some hurt or other. He used t^
look at her and touch her, as if she was something precious to
him. He was always solicitous about her not injuring her
healthy and constantly entreated her mother to be careful of it.
This was so much the more curious, because the child did not
like him, but nsed to shrink away from him, and would not
even put out her hand to him without coaxing from others. I
believe every soul on board frequently noticed this, and that not



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Online LibraryCharles DickensCharles Dickens' complete works → online text (page 70 of 84)