She feared that his desire to become a sailor would prove incontrollable, and that he would eventually go to sea, any way. Perhaps, by allowing him to try life on shipboard, in a smaller way, and so near home as the familiar lake, would result in his abandoning the idea of a “life on the ocean wave” altogether.

James prepared for his departure as soon as possible; and taking what money was necessary, with his inevitable bundle, he returned his mother’s kiss, but not her tears, and started for Cleveland, where he expected to ship. He walked the whole distance, seventeen miles, and was in sight of the tempting sails at twelve o’clock, noon.

He proceeded directly to the wharf, and boarded the first schooner he found.

“Chance for another hand on board?” he inquired of one of the crew.

The sailor addressed answered, “The captain will soon come up from the hold.”

So James waited, expecting soon to stand in the presence of a stout, gentlemanly, noble-looking man, just such a captain as he had read of in books. He did not wait long before the sailor whom he had addressed remarked:

“The captain is coming.”

James heard a tremendous noise below, as if there was trouble of some kind; and then he heard a human voice belching out most horrible oaths at somebody, or something, as if the captain of the infernal regions was approaching. He scarcely knew what to make of it. But, while he stood wondering, the captain appeared—a drunken, beastly, angry fellow—a whisky-barrel on legs, his mouth its bung-hole, pouring out the vilest stuff possible. James had seen some hard customers before, but if the pit could send up a more horrible sample of humanity from its “hold,” he did not wish to meet him. James looked at the creature a moment, and the disgusting creature looked at him, when he ventured to approach him, saying, in a gentlemanly way:


“Yes; what in h—do you want?”

“Do you want to hire another hand for your schooner?”

“What if I do, you green land-lubber?” exclaimed the captain, with another torrent of oaths. “Get off this schooner in double-quick, or I’ll throw you into the dock, you impudent son of a—”

James attempted to excuse himself in a polite way, but the infuriated wretch only cursed and raved the more, swinging his fists in the most threatening manner.

“Get out, I say, or I’ll be the death of you. S’pose I’d hire such a lubber and greenhorn to run my schooner!” And the blackest oaths continued to roll out of his mouth.

The last sound of that terrible voice that lingered on James’s ear, as he hurried from the craft, was that of profanity. Such a repulse he never dreamed of. He scarcely thought such a scene possible anywhere. He had read of sailors and captains, but he had never read of such a captain as that. He began to think that books are not always reliable. It was the first time he had ever stopped to think that men are not always what they are represented to be in books. The experience was a damper to his seafaring propensity. In this respect, it was a good thing for the boy. As it turned out, the drunken captain prevented him from becoming a sailor. It was a rather rough way of being turned aside from a purpose, but the roughest usage sometimes leads to the best results.

James sat down on a pile of wood to muse on the ways of the world, and to eat a lunch which he put into his pocket on leaving home. He could not understand the philosophy of such a course as the captain

  By PanEris using Melati.

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