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THE SHIPWRECK

A Story for the Young

by

REV. JOSEPH SPILLMANN, S. J.

Translated from the German

Mary Richards Gray

Second Edition







St. Louis, Mo., and Freiburg, (Baden)
Published by B. Herder,
1910.




TALES OF FOREIGN LANDS
A Series of Stories for the Young
Edited by Rev. Joseph Spillmann, S. J.
Vol. VII.
The Shipwreck
Second Edition
St. Louis, Mo., and Freiburg, (Baden)
Published by B. Herder,
1910.
Copyright 1906
by
Joseph Gummersbach.




CONTENTS.

Chapter.

I. Two Young Friends
II. Sad Tidings
III. Aboard the "St. George"
IV. With the Priest of the God of the Golden Fish
V. In the City
VI. The Chinese New Year
VII. The Unexpected Departure
VIII. A Very Real Danger
IX. A New Plan
X. The Hurricane
XI. Stranded
XII. At Last




To

ANN ELIZA SMYTHE OF CHICAGO

The translator dedicates her part of this little volume.




THE SHIPWRECK.


CHAPTER I.

Two Young Friends.

At the mouth of the great river of Canton lies a maze of islands large
and small, of which the most important is Hongkong on account of its
fine harbor. More than half a century ago the English seized upon this
island and forced the Chinese to cede it to them. Then it was little
more than a barren rock with a low swampy shore on which were a few
villages inhabited by poor fisher folk. The swamps have been drained,
gardens planted, and villas built, until now the once barren heights
vie in beauty with the grass-grown slopes of the hills at the foot of
which in the shade of great trees nestle pleasant little fisher
hamlets. On the north side of the island stands the capital city,
Victoria, in which tier above tier, stair-like the rows of houses and
splendid buildings rise one above another up the side of a hill.
Beautiful quays, broad streets lined with shade trees, churches,
barracks, theaters, hospitals, hotels, and shops with great show
windows take one back in thought to the European capitals; and as the
elaborately decorated pagodas are not near to the Christian churches,
and, as there are not many more Chinese than English people in the
streets, one can almost forget that he is within the confines of China
and a tropical land.

In this great capital city nearly all the missionary societies of China
have settlements, and in each of the missionary seminaries the stranger
finds a hospitable welcome, but the one we like best of all to visit is
the beautiful College of the Holy Saviour in Mayland. It stands in the
very shadow of the cathedral, the tall spires of which, towering to the
heavens, tell us in which direction to turn our steps to find it. We
know full well that the door-keeper, the old Italian Brother with
snow-white hair and coal-black eyes, will greet us cordially, and show
us the garden and the grounds on which blonde-haired European boys play
in brotherly fashion with pig-tailed Chinese youths. When Brother
Onufrio - for this is the name of the door-keeper - is in very good humor
and has the time he tells us stories of his experiences in the College
of the Holy Saviour in which he has been in active service since its
foundation. One of these is the wonderful history of the small Irish
lad, Willy Brown, the son of a sea captain, and his friend, the Chinese
foundling, Joseph. We shall tell the tale just as Brother Onufrio
would tell it, beginning with the day in the first year of his
residence in Hongkong when the crosses were placed on the spires of the
dome of the cathedral.

* * * * * *

A few days before the Chinese New Year in 1858 the work on the
cathedral had progressed so far that the great golden crosses could be
erected. Securely fastened with strong ropes they lay at the foot of
the scaffolding ready to be drawn up into place, and standing about in
a half circle were missioners, pupils, and workmen. The Apostolic
Prefect, dressed in festal robes, and attended by the small acolytes,
Willy Brown and the Chinese Joseph, had blessed the crosses. Then at a
signal the workmen pulled the ropes and, as they rose on high, the
clear, piping voices of the boys rang out in the splendid old hymn:

The Royal banners forward go,
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow;
On which the One Who in our flesh was made
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.


When the crosses had been put in place the Prefect made a speech,
saying among other things, "Now afar over Hongkong and its harbor where
it may be seen not only by all the people who dwell here but also by
those who come in ships from far distant ports shines the sign of Our
Lord." Of all that the head of the order of missioners said on this
occasion this impressed little Willy most, and when the celebration was
over the small acolyte went to Father Somazzo and said: "Father, the
Apostolic Prefect said that the cross on the cathedral could be seen
from all the ships that come into the harbor. From the cross can you
see all the ships?"

"Yes, certainly, Willy," he answered. "From all the ships, streets,
open squares, and hills round about from which the cross is visible,
any and all those places are visible from the dome on which the cross
stands."

"Oh, then, Father, let me climb up. It is not dangerous. The ladders
are fastened tightly to the scaffolding, and the scaffolding is so
strong that it will hold big men. Yesterday at recess Joseph almost
climbed up; he would have gone to the very top, if the Prefect had not
seen him and called him down. O Father, don't frown so at me, but let
me go. I want so much to see whether my father's ship has come. He
wrote that he would be here before the New Year, and I would know his
ship at a glance from the golden picture of holy Saint George that's on
the bow. Please, Father, please."

Father Somazzo shook his head and said: "The ship is too far away for
you to see what is painted on the bow, and besides it is too dangerous
for you to climb up there. You might get dizzy and fall, and what
would your father say if he were to come here and find you a corpse, or
with your legs and arms broken?"

"Oh, but Father, I do not get dizzy. I have often been up on the
rigging of the 'Saint George', in the crow's nest, and even on the very
highest yard. I know every bit of the rigging of the ship. O Father,
let me climb up right now."

The teacher looked at Willy earnestly and raised his finger chidingly.
"Willy," he said, "you've got that stubborn little head of yours set
again. How often have I told you that it is not becoming for you to
insist on having your own way. No, you cannot climb up to the dome
under any circumstances. I forbid it."

With that Father Somazzo left the small boy standing in the garden and
followed the other missioners into the house. Willy looked about him,
half frightened, half defiant, and giving his cap a jerk down over his
curly yellow hair muttered, as he glanced at the shining cross: "I will
climb up there, and he can punish me if he likes. Let him catch me
first."

Willy Brown was really not a naughty boy, but he could be very willful
at times. Irish by birth and accustomed to more liberty than the
Italian teacher was wont to give his pupils in Hongkong, he did not
always submit readily to the rather strict discipline of the school,
but aside from this was an exemplary child. In order to break him of
his habit of being so stubborn his teacher often commanded or forbade
him to do things which otherwise would never have been thought of a
second time. Just now the one desire of Willy's heart was to see his
father's ship, and to him the climbing of the scaffolding seemed so
wholly without danger that he looked upon the command which he had
received as an act of tyranny, and resolved to disobey. His conscience
said to him, "It is a sin to disobey," but he heeded not the small
voice within him. Before going up he sought out his favorite
companion, a little twelve year old Chinaman. The boys were of an age
and were to receive their first communion at the same time - facts which
created a bond of sympathy between two children almost as totally
unlike as it was possible for children to be. The young Chinaman was a
foundling. His parents after the fashion of many of the Chinese had
exposed him when but a few days old, thus consigning him to death,
although their heathen religion forbids the practice, and if the
Sisters of Mercy had not found and cared for him in the orphanage he
would have perished. There the boy was baptized and brought up in the
Christian religion. And when the years passed by, as Joseph - this was
the name given him at baptism - showed decided talent, he was put in
school, and finally given over to the missioners in the college, to be
trained for the priesthood, if God called him to the work.

At the very time that Willy was seeking for Joseph, Joseph was seeking
for Willy, and, when he heard the voice of his red-cheeked companion,
his black slanting eyes danced and his yellow face flushed with
pleasure.

"Hello, Peppo," said Willy, addressing him by the nickname which old
Brother Onufrio had given him.

"Come with me behind the camelia-bush where Father Somazzo cannot see
us."

"But why must he not see us? You are not going to do anything wrong,
are you?" asked the small Chinaman trembling.

"What? Anything wrong? I'll play him a trick or two - the tyrant - and
that will not be wrong, I say. Is there anything wrong about my
looking to see whether my father's boat is here? Come with me right
now." Peppo hesitated. "Come this minute or I'll drag you along by
your pig-tail the way naughty Freddy used to do before I took you in
charge."

Joseph went with his protector without more ado, but did not approve of
the plan disclosed to him behind the camelia bush.

"Don't do it, Willy. It will be disobedience, and it's against the
fourth commandment."

"The fourth commandment of God tells me to love my father, and for love
of my father I want to climb up and look for his ship. That cannot be
against the fourth commandment," said the sinful distorter.

The sophism did not enlighten small Peppo. "I believe, Willy," he
said, "that it is against the fourth commandment, because the Father
has forbidden it. He will be very sorry to have you do this, and will
give us a dreadful punishment. Only think! the day after tomorrow will
be the Chinese New Year, and then in the evening we shall be allowed to
go to the marketplace and the harbor to see all the lights, - and the
fireworks, - and the Punch and Judy show, if we are good boys. You have
never in all your life seen anything so beautiful, - green, and red, and
blue, and yellow lanterns, - and all the people, - and the
sky-rockets, - and the puppet show. Wouldn't you be sorry to have to
stay at home for punishment while all of us boys go to the show?"
Willy was almost persuaded and hesitated a moment; then he struck his
heels into the ground defiantly and said:

"Never mind, Peppo, Father Somazzo won't catch me, and, if he does, I
won't tell on you. Now you've got to help me over the wall, and I'll
climb up on the other side where he can't see me from the house. Come,
now hurry up, Peppo, if you want to be my friend."

Unwillingly the young Chinaman yielded to his comrade's command. He
felt it was wrong to lend a helping hand to one who was disobeying, but
he did not wish to lose his best friend, the one who had so often
defended him from the teasings of his companions. He slipped along
with Willy in the shadow of the bushes, then helped him climb the wall,
but even when the youthful sinner had swung himself from the wall to
the scaffolding he remonstrated, saying:

"Willy, don't do it. Come down."

"Nonsense, Peppo," he said as he began to ascend.

"Willy, - - he does not hear me. I wish I had not helped him," sighed
Peppo, as he slipped away to his companions with an uneasy conscience.




CHAPTER II.

Sad Tidings.

A very few moments after Willy with the help of Peppo had climbed the
garden wall the bell called Brother Onufrio to the door. There stood a
stranger. He wore a cap marked with a golden anchor and inquired for
an Irish lad named Willy Brown.

"Yes, Willy is here. You are his father, are you not? For days he has
talked of nothing but your coming. He will be so pleased to see you.
Come in, Captain, I'll announce your arrival to the Father Prefect, and
call Willy."

With these words the Brother showed the Captain into the small
reception-room near the door, and would have left quickly had not the
stranger motioned him to wait.

"Hm, - hm, - my coming," he said, "will not give the boy so much pleasure
as you think. I am not his father but his guardian. His father died
suddenly last week at sea."

"Oh, how sad! And the poor child knows nothing of it," sighed the
Brother. "I'll first speak to the Father Prefect in private; he must
prepare him somewhat for this sad news. Wait a moment. Father Somazzo
will be here immediately."

The Captain gave the gray-haired man a sinister look as he left the
room, then muttered to himself: "Prepared! As if such a piece of news
could have much effect on a healthy child. If it would only frighten
him to death. - Well, there'd be no great damage done. Then I'd have
his inheritance - which is really not a trifling sum - instead of being
merely the administrator, and my creditors would not be driving me
almost out of my senses. If his father had only given me a lump sum of
at least ten thousand pounds, as I begged him to do before he
died! - Our ship will be confiscated in Melbourne. The 'St. George'
does not belong to me but to my nephew, my ward. - Oh, if I only knew
how to get myself out of this predicament! One fortunate thing has
happened since the death of my brother. I have managed to get all the
books and accounts out of the way, and perhaps things will go better,
if I once get the boy in my power." These were the thoughts which
occupied the mind of John Brown, as, with downcast eyes and sullen
mien, he paced up and down the reception-room.

John Brown was the younger brother of George Brown, Willy's father.
Both men had received from their parents, in Dublin, a large amount of
money, but they had not managed it equally well. George, choosing to
go to sea had invested his in a merchantman, and in a short time
through prosperous voyages to the Indian and Chinese Seas doubled his
capital. In Hongkong he married a Catholic maiden, who unfortunately
died, leaving a child, Willy, now barely eight years old. In
accordance with her last wish this child was taken to the Missionary
College of the Holy Saviour to be educated. Here the father had
frequent opportunities of seeing him, as his trading expeditions often
took him to Hongkong. The reports of the child's progress and behavior
were always good, and he seemed so happy and contented that the father
questioned the advisability of taking him to a larger European
institution, especially as Willy begged to remain where he was.
Oftentimes the Captain took his little son with him on short trips to
the neighboring ports of Canton and Malacca; and for one of these Willy
was now hoping, as his father was just returning from a voyage to
Ireland. But instead of the father, there came the uncle, whom he had
never seen, and of whose existence he did not even know, bringing the
sad news of the death of George Brown.

John Brown was a man of an altogether different stamp, and had lived an
altogether different life. Possessed of a passion for drinking and
gambling he had indulged in riotous living until he made an end of his
patrimony, then appealed to his brother to pay his debts. In order to
save the family name from disgrace George furnished him money, but the
appeals for more were so constant that he was obliged to give no heed
to them or else ruin himself. On the occasion of his last visit to
Dublin he found his brother in trouble, and, to escape the charges
preferred against him in the criminal courts, took him with him on what
proved to be his last voyage. Captain Brown died a few days out from
Hongkong and was buried at sea.

John Brown was innocent of his brother's death, and so the officers and
crew of the "St. George" believed, yet the death came so suddenly and
opportunely that it gave grounds for suspicion. John was left
administrator of the estate of his nephew, and, directly on landing in
Hongkong, had himself, as next of kin, appointed Willy's guardian, with
the idea of taking him with him on board the "St. George." But how to
get him away from the school in the middle of the term was a puzzling
question.

Father Somazzo appeared in the doorway and greeted the stranger
politely, but with utmost reserve. "You are the brother of the
esteemed Captain Brown, the father of dear little Willy," began the
priest, noting as he spoke the dark features of the man and the
striking resemblance which he bore to his brother.

"I am the Captain's younger brother and the guardian of his son.
George died at sea last week, as the door-keeper undoubtedly told you,"
said the man with a stiff bow. "How is my nephew? Is he doing well?
Is he advanced sufficiently so that he can take business training or
have the schooling of life at sea prove of value to him?"

"We are much pleased with Willy and the progress he is making,"
answered Father Somazzo, inviting the stranger to be seated. "He is a
good, pious child, only somewhat stubborn and capable of playing mad
tricks at times. Just now he has been guilty of disobedience for which
we would punish him, were it not that he must be told of the death of
his father. That, of course, drives away all thought of harsh
treatment."

"What has my nephew been doing?"

"Oh, nothing so very bad. He climbed to the dome of the Cathedral on
the scaffolding, or, rather worse than that, he went after being
expressly forbidden to go. Of course, he did it - he can in a measure
be excused - out of love of his father, whose ship - "

"Is that the careless way in which you watch over the boys in this
institution?" interrupted the Captain. "On a bright day like this can
your pupils climb the scaffolding on that dome at will without being
stopped? Now, what if my nephew, for whose welfare I, as guardian,
have a care, had fallen headlong and been killed or crippled for life?
My dear Father, that decides me right now to take my nephew out of your
institution immediately."

"Captain Brown, before I give the boy over to your care you must give
proof of being his guardian. And, then, too, before taking such a rash
step you ought to consider well what is for his best interest. His
revered father would have sanctioned no such thing as this; your
reasons for taking him away from here are groundless. He is neither
ready to go into business, nor into training on shipboard, and what is
more has no desire for any such thing. Of that I'm very sure."

Father Somazzo spoke very quietly and firmly, yet not without anger, as
he scrutinized the man before him, and pictured what Willy's life would
be on board the "St. George."

Captain Brown gave the priest a wicked look and said sarcastically:
"Indeed, my ward is to be neither a sea-faring man nor a business
man - but a priest, I suppose, in which case you would inherit the not
unimportant property which has been left him by his father? - Oh, do not
look so angry - holy intentions of such a sort as that are not unheard
of. That is another reason for my taking the boy away from your
influence. Here is the official proof that I am his guardian, and I
wish him given over to me at once."

Father Somazzo examined the paper. It was legal, therefore he could
not refuse the request, but he asked permission to keep the child until
the following day to comfort him as much as he could over the death of
his father. The Captain objected and Willy was sent for. Frightened
and with tears streaming from his eyes he was led into the
reception-room by Brother Onufrio. At sight of his uncle he screamed,
"I won't go, I won't go with him," and buried his face in Father
Somazzo's skirts. "Father, send the bad man away that says he is my
uncle, and that my father is dead. He doesn't tell the truth. I have
no uncle. My father never told me anything at all about having an
uncle. And see what wicked eyes he has. I don't want to, and I won't
go with him."

With difficulty Father Somazzo quieted the child, saying:

"God knows that I am willing to keep you here, Willy, but your
uncle - the Captain is your uncle, even though you never have seen or
heard of him - has control over you, and you owe obedience to him in all
things which are not sinful. Go with him, and may God and his guardian
angels watch over you. We will pray to the Blessed Virgin for you, and
I hope she will safely bring you back to us. Perhaps you will come
sooner than you think for."

Blessing the boy the priest sprinkled him with holy water and then gave
him over to the Captain, saying:

"Only because I am compelled to, Captain, do I give this boy into your
care. He is good and innocent. Bear in mind that from now on you are
accountable to God for his soul."

The Captain muttered something which could not be understood and tried
to make an end to the scene. He took the boy by the arm, made a stiff
bow, and stepped to the door. Here, on hearing the news that Willy was
about to leave the school, most of his companions had assembled to bid
him good-bye. Many shed tears, and Peppo, at the last moment, came
flying in breathless. "Oh, Willy, Willy," he cried embracing him,
"never, never shall I forget how good you were to me. Who will protect
me now when they all tease me?"

"Oh, but you are all here together and like each other so much,"
answered Willy. "Who is going to protect me from this bad man?" The
last words he whispered in the ear of his little friend.

"Your holy guardian angel," he answered, "and we will all pray for you."

"Come on, nephew, I don't want to stay here any longer," urged the
Captain, and a moment later the two had left the College of the Holy
Saviour and were out in the street.

Immediately after their departure Father Somazzo called his pupils into
the chapel and there they commended their small companion to the
Blessed Virgin and the holy guardian angels. Of all there assembled
small Peppo prayed most earnestly.

"O holy guardian angel, thou who art my protector," he said in his
childish simplicity, "Willy will now have need of two guardian angels
instead of one, if God will permit, go and help Willy's guardian angel
to protect him from the bad man who has taken him away. You see here
where I am the good Fathers will watch over me, and it will be enough
if each day you but look at me and then fly away to Willy. But, dear
angel, come to me when I am in danger and call for help."

After this the boys returned to the schoolroom, and as soon as they
were at work, Father Somazzo took his hat and walking-stick and went to
the city to consult Mr. Black, an English lawyer. To him he stated the
case assuring the learned gentleman that the father would not willingly
have placed his child under the guardianship of this younger brother,
who was a gambler and a spendthrift, and asked if there was any way of
getting the boy a way from him. Mr. Black said that according to law
the uncle, as next of kin, could claim the guardianship of his
brother's children, and unless sufficient proof that he was not a fit
person to have such guardianship could be secured immediately, months
might elapse before he could be taken from him. At the time of our
story Hongkong was not connected with Europe by telegraph, as it now
is, and it took from eight to ten weeks to communicate with people in
Dublin.




CHAPTER III.

Aboard the "St. George."

The Captain took his nephew directly to the harbor. The boy cried
softly to himself as he trudged along, and at last his uncle said to
him in a mild tone of voice, "Willy, stop your crying. See, all the
passersby are looking at you. If I were a boy like you, I would be
only too happy to get out of such a tiresome old place where you just
learn and pray all day long. I am going to take you into quite a
different school, one in which all is bright and gay. On board the
ship you won't have any old exercises to do."

"Oh, but I liked everything at the College so much, and in the new
school there won't anybody know me," wailed Willy. "And you - are you
really my uncle?"


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