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Old 01-27-2016, 03:37 PM
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I came forward, and Tom followed me. We repeated what we wanted.

«I always like to make things clear,» said the captain, «so now hear me; if I pressed one of the king’s relations, and the king, the queen and all the little princesses went down on their knees, I would keep him until the Admiralty ordered me to let him go. Now, my lads, do you see your chance?»

Then he turned away and walked off. Soon the hands were piped to dinner, and after dinner we weighed anchor and sailed off. In this way Tom and I began our military service against our will.

We were soon clear of the Channel, but nobody knew what our destination was. It was kept secret. However, we soon learned that we were to cruise for two months between the Western Isles and Madeira and look out for some privateers which had captured many of our merchant ships sailing for West India. After that period we were to join the admiral at Halifax.

The weather was good, and we were on deck all day long. The time was passed in training the men in the use of arms and in doing their duties about the ship. We were as active and quick as we could be, and the first lieutenant pointed us out to the captain. Tom was a great favourite among the men, always joking and ready for some trick. Besides, he could imitate the captain’s manner of speech, explaining to the men what he liked. One day we both did it, and though the captain heard everything, we were not punished. This is how it happened. One of the sailors fell overboard. The poor fellow could not swim, and Tom, turning to me, said:

«Jacob, I should like to save that man,» and immediately jumped overboard.

«And I should like to help you, Tom,» cried I, and followed him. The captain was close to us, and heard us both. Between us we held up the sailor, and soon a boat from the ship picked us up. When we came on deck, the captain was at the companion-ladder. He showed his white teeth, and shook his finger at us.

«I heard you both,» he said, «and I should like to have many more brave fellows like you.»

We continued our cruise, looking out for the privateers, but without success. The captain promised a reward to the man who should discover a ship in the open sea. Tom and I often climbed to the mast-head and kept watch there. We worked hard all day long, and only in the evening we had some free time to rest and play games. One of our favourite games was called «Follow my leader.» One of the men leads, and all who take part follow him, sometimes forty or fifty will join. Whatever the leader does, the rest must do also; wherever he goes they must follow. Tom, who was always the first in games, was one day the leader. He climbed up the highest mast, crossed from mast to mast several times, slid down by a rope and blacked his face with soot. About thirty men followed him, laughing. Suddenly a new idea came to Tom’s head. Crying out, «Follow my leader,» he jumped into the sea. I was second, and crying out, «Follow my leader,» to the rest, I followed him. The others did the same.
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