Chapter 1


The hammocks were not piped down that night: some were taken indiscriminately for the wounded, but the rest remained in the nettings, for all hands were busy preparing jury masts and jury rigging, and Mr. Pottyfar was so well employed that, for twelve hours, his hands were not in his pockets. It was indeed a dreadful night: the waves were mountains high, and chased the frigate in their fury, cresting, breaking, and roaring at her taffrail; but she flew before them with the wings of the wind; four men at the helm, assisted by others at the relieving tackles below. Jack, having been thanked on and washed off the quarter-deck, thought that he had done quite enough; he was as deep as he could swim, before he had satisfied all the scruples of the chaplain, and stowing himself away on one of the lockers of the midshipmen’s berth, was soon fast asleep, notwithstanding that the frigate rolled gunwale under. Gascoigne had done much better; he had taken down a hammock, as he said, for a poor wounded man, hung it up, and turned in himself. The consequence was, that the next morning the surgeon, who saw him lying in the hammock, had put him down in the report; but as Gascoigne had got up as well as ever, he laughed, and scratched his name out of the list of wounded.

Before morning, the ship had been pumped out dry, and all below made as secure and safe as circumstances would permit; but the gale still continued its violence, and there was anything but comfort on board.

“I say, Martin, you ought to be thrown overboard,” said Gascoigne; “all this comes from your croaking—you’re a Mother Cary’s chicken.”

“I wish I had been any one’s chicken,” replied Martin; “but the devil a thing to nestle under have I had since I can well remember.”

“What a bore to have no galley fire lighted,” said one of the youngsters, “no tea, and not allowed any grog.”

“The gale will last three days,” replied Martin, “and by that time we shall not be far from the admiral; it won’t blow home there.”

“Well, then, we shall be ordered in directly, and I shall go on shore to-morrow,” replied Easy.

“Yes, if you’re ill,” replied Gascoigne.

“Never fear, I shall be sick enough: we shall be there at least six weeks, and then we’ll forget all this.”

“Yes,” replied Martin, “we may forget it, but will the poor fellows whose limbs are shrivelled forget it? and will poor Miles, the boatswain, who is blind for ever?”

“Very true, Martin, we are thinking about ourselves, not thankful for our escape, and not feeling for others,” replied Gascoigne.

“Give us your hand, Ned,” said Jack Easy. “And, Martin, we ought to thank you for telling us the truth—we are a selfish set of fellows.”

“Still we took our share with the others,” replied one of the midshipmen.

“That’s more reason for us to be grateful and to pity them,” replied Jack. “Suppose you had lost your arm or your eyesight—we should have pitied you; so now pity others.”

“Well, so I do, now I think of it.”

“Think oftener, youngster,” observed Martin, going on deck.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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