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Old 01-27-2016, 11:15 PM
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CHAPTER III

Grog Makes Us Forget. On a Sick-Bed. I Take My First Lesson in Love. My New Friend

We soon found the road, and in half an hour were at the public-house, cold, wet and tired, but still cheerful. Tom went in for the bottle of whiskey, while I went for the oars and carried them down to the boat. When Tom joined me I saw that he had two bottles under his arm.

I have taken another, he said, because Im sure we want it. Father will say the same when he hears our story.

In a few minutes we were close to the lighter, on the deck of which stood old Tom.

Is that you, lads? he cried.

Yes, father, alls right, replied Tom.

Thank God, exclaimed the old man. Boys, boys, how you frightened me! Where have you been? I thought something had happened to you. Ive been on deck during the last two hours watching for the boat, and Im wet to the skin and cold, too. What was the matter? Did you bring the bottle, Tom?

Yes, father: brought two, because we shall want them tonight. But first we must all put on dry clothes, and then you shall have the story of our adventures.

In a few minutes we had changed our wet clothes and were seated at the cabin-table eating our supper and telling our adventures to the old man.

We sat together at the table till late at night, and old Tom told us many stories from his past. That night for the first time I went to bed drunk. Old Tom and his son helped me into my bed-place.

Poor Jacob, old Tom said, it will do him good. His heart was heavy, and now hell forget it all, for a little time, at least.
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Well father, but I dont like to see Jacob drunk, replied young Tom.

I awoke in the morning with a bad headache. But I had also a fever. I rose, dressed and went on deck where the snow was nearly a foot deep. I rubbed my burning forehead with the snow, and felt better. For some time I helped Tom to clear the deck of the snow, but the fever made me weak. In half an hour I could no longer stand on my feet. I sat down on an empty box, and pressed my hands to my aching head.

You are not well, Jacob? exclaimed Tom, coming up to me.

I am not, indeed, Tom, I replied.

Tom called his father, and they both led me into the cabin. I could hardly walk. My knees trembled and I could hardly drag my feet from weakness. They put me into bed. Soon I became unconscious, and remained so for many days afterwards.

When I recovered my senses, I found myself in bed, and Captain Turnbull sitting by my side. They had carried me to his house when the lighter had arrived at the wharf.

I stayed in bed for many days, and all this time Captain Turnbull looked after me. At last I began to recover. One day Captain Turnbull said to me:

Jacob, the lighter has returned. Will you go on board again, and afterwards go into the boat into which Mr. Drummond wants to send you?

I dont want any help from Mr. Drummond, I said.

What will you do then? he asked.

I can always enter on board a warship, I said, if the worst comes to the worst. But I want to serve my apprenticeship on the river first.

I rather expected this answer, Jacob. You know I have thought of a plan you dont mind if I help you, do you?

O no, but promise that you will never doubt me

No, my boy, never. I know you too well. Now, Jacob, listen to me. You know old deaf Stapleton in whose boat we have so often pulled up and down the river? I have spoken to him about taking you as his help, and he has agreed. Would you like to go? He has served his time, and has a right to take an apprentice.

Yes, I replied, with pleasure; and with all the more pleasure because I shall see you often.

Well, then, consider it settled. At Fulham Stapleton has a very good room and all that is needed on shore. I have seen his place, and I think you will be comfortable.

In a few days I took my leave of Mr. Turnbull, and went to the lighter which was still at the wharf to say good-bye to my friends.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:15 PM
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Jacob, said old Tom at parting, I like your pride after all, and I think you have the right to be proud. The man who only asks for justice and no favour will always rise in this world. But look you, Jacob, if you ever have a hard time, remember the old house, the old woman, and old Tom. They will always be glad to see you. Heres luck to you, my boy, and good-bye.

And, Jacob, said young Tom, I am your true friend. If ever you want me in bad weather or good, for a help or for a friend in need, Im yours, and heres my hand upon it.

I shook hands with them both, and we parted. I walked down to Fulham where I found Stapleton at the door of the public-house, standing with two or three others smoking his pipe.

Well, lad, he said, so you are chained to my boat for two or three years, and I am to teach you all I know of our profession. Now Ill tell you one thing: when the river is covered with ice, as it is just now, smoke your pipe and wait till the river is clear, as I do now.

You neednt tell me that, replied I, shouting in his ear, I could very well guess it myself.

Very true, my boy, but dont shout in my ear quite so loud.

Why, I thought you were as deaf as a post.

Yes, so I am, with strangers. But with my friends I hear better when they speak quietly. Come, lets go home, my pipe is finished.

Stapleton had lost his wife, but he had a daughter, fifteen years old, who kept house for him. They lived in an old house the windows of which looked out on the river. Stapletons daughter was a very good-looking girl. She had a rather large mouth, but her teeth were fine and beautifully white. Her hair was brown, her skin white, her eyes large and of a deep blue, and her figure was very good. Her face had an honest expression and her smile was very pleasant.

Well, Mary, how do you get on? said Stapleton as we entered the house. Heres young Faithful whos come to live with us.

Well, father, his bed is ready.

You have very nice rooms here, I said looking around.
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O yes, very nice for idle people. You may amuse yourself looking out on the river, or watching what floats by, replied Mary, looking at me.

I like the river, I replied. I was born on it, and hope to earn my bread on it.

And I like this sitting-room, Stapleton put in. How pleasant it is to sit at the open window and smoke in the summer time, with ones jacket off. Well, Ill leave you now. I shall be back to dinner. And old Stapleton walked downstairs and went back to the public-house. Mary began to do the room, and I watched the floating ice on the river. For a while none of us spoke.

Well, said Mary at last, do you always talk as you do now? If so, youll be a very nice companion. Ms. Turnbull told me that you were a clever fellow. He said you could read, write and do everything. He was sure I should like you very much. But how can I like you when you are silent?

I am ready to talk when I have anything to talk about, I replied.

And I am ready to talk about nothing, and you must do the same.

Very well, I replied, how old are you?

How old am I? Then you consider me nothing. I shall try to change your opinion, my fine fellow. But, to answer your question, Im about fifteen. And what is your age?

Nearly seventeen.

Are you really so old? I thought you were fourteen.

This answer at first surprised me, but soon I understood that she was just playing with me.

Pooh! I replied, that shows how little you know about men.

But I know something about men. Ive had two sweethearts already.

Indeed! and what have you done with them?

Ive cast off the first for the second, because the second was better looking. And when Mr. Turnbull told me about you, I cast off the second to make room for you, but now I mean to try if I cant get him back again.

I shall make a poor sweetheart, I said laughing, because I never made love in my life.

Have you ever had anybody to make love to?

No.

All you have to do is to swear that I am the prettiest girl in the world, that you like me better than anybody else in the world. Then you must promise that you will do anything in the world that I ask and spend all the money you have in the world on me, and then

And then what?

Why, then I shall hear all you have to say, take all you have to give and then laugh at you thats all.

But I shouldnt stand that long.
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O yes, you would, Jacob Faithful. I made up my mind before I saw you that you should be my sweetheart. And Ill tell you why, Jacob. Its because Mr. Turnbull told me that you knew Latin. Now, tell me, what is Latin?

Latin is a language which people spoke in old times, but now they do not.

Well, then, you shall make love to me in Latin, thats agreed.

And how will you answer me?

In English, of course.

But how will you understand me?, I replied, much amused with the conversation.

O, if you make love properly, I shall soon understand you. I shall read it in your eyes.

Very well, I dont mind it. When am I to begin?

Why, directly, you stupid fellow. What a question!

I went close up to Mary, and said a few words in Latin.

Now, I said, look into my eyes and see if you can translate them.

Something impudent, Im sure, she replied.

Not at all, I said, I only asked for this. And I quickly kissed her on the lips. In reply I received a box on the ear.

Thats not fair, I complained. I did as you wished: I made love in Latin.

And I answered you, as I promised, in English, replied Mary laughing. Now, Jacob, I see quite clearly that you know nothing about making love. No more Latin Ive had enough of that.

Well, then, suppose we make friends, replied I, holding out my hand.

Thats what I really wished to do, Mary said. I know we shall like one another, and be very good friends. Do you hear me or what are you thinking of?

I m thinking that youre a very strange girl.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:16 PM
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Maybe I am, but I cannot help that. Mother died when I was five years old, and father used to lock me in all day, till he came home from the river. When I was seven he left the door open for the first time. But I have seldom left the house for an hour, and never have been out of Fulham.

Then you have never been at school?

O nonever. I used to see the little girls coming home with their bags; they passed our door on the way from the school-house.

Would you like to learn to read and write?

Will you teach me? Mary replied, taking me by the arm and looking me in the face.

Yes, I will, with pleasure, I agreed. I will teach you all I know myself, Mary, if you wish to learn.

O, I shall love you for your kindness.

Now, Mary, as we are going to be such good friends, its necessary that your father and I should be good friends, too. So I must ask you what sort of a man he is, for I know little of him, and of course wish to please him.

Well, my father, in the first place, is a very good-natured man. He works pretty well, but he is too fond of smoking at the public-house. All he asks of me is to get his dinner ready and keep the house clean. He never drinks too much and is always polite to people. He leaves me too much alone, and talks too much about human nature. Thats all.

But hes so deaf he cant talk to you.

Give me your hand now promise youll never tell it again.

Well, I promise, I replied.

Father is no more deaf than you or I, she whispered in my ear.

Indeed! I exclaimed. Why does he go by the name of Deaf Stapleton?

It is to make more money.

How can he make money by that?

There are many people who go down the river to talk about their business, and there are many gentlemen and ladies who have much to say to each other, without wishing people to listen. They always call for Deaf Stapleton you understand me?

O yes, I understand.

Well, I must now go down to the kitchen and put dinner on the fire.

I have nothing to do, I replied, can I help you?

Certainly you can, and talk to me which is better still. Come down and wash the potatoes for me, and then Ill find you some more work. Well, I think we shall be very happy.

I followed Mary Stapleton down into the kitchen, and we were soon very busy, laughing, talking and preparing the dinner. By the time her father came home we were the best of friends.
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CHAPTER IV

An Accident with Mr. Turnbull. The Old Domine Falls in Love


The cold weather continued for many days, and the river was covered with ice. We had no work, and soon Stapletons money ran short.

I must go and ask Mr. Turnbull to help us, said Stapleton one day, pulling his last shilling out. He is a good gentleman and he will give us some money.

In the afternoon Stapleton returned. He had got the money from Mr. Turnbull.

Jacob, said he, Mr. Turnbull wishes to see you. You will have breakfast with him tomorrow morning.

I started at daylight the next morning and was in good time for breakfast. Mr. Turnbull was as kind as ever, and began telling me long stories from his past life.

By the way, he suddenly exclaimed. I hear that fires are to be lit on the ice a little above London Bridge. Lets go and see the fun.

I readily agreed and we walked to the river. The scene was very exciting. The whole river was crowded with people, here and there smoke rose from several fires on which sausages were cooking. The sun shone brightly, and the sky was clear. The wind was icy cold, but just the same we enjoyed our walk. We had been on the ice about three hours when Mr. Turnbull proposed our going home, and we walked towards the bank. Suddenly Mr. Turnbulls hat fell off, the wind caught it and blew it away. Mr. Turnbull and I ran after it. Many people on the river laughed as we passed. Mr. Turnbull ran in front. He Hid not notice a place where the ice was thin. Neither did I, until all at once I heard the ice break and saw Mr. Turnbull disappear. Many people were close to us, and a rope was thrown to me. I did not hesitate. Seizing the rope I threw myself into the hole and swam under the ice. In a few seconds I caught hold of the man, and at the same time I felt that the rope was pulled from above. When they pulled us out we were both unconscious. We were taken to the public-house on the river-side, and were put to bed. The next morning we were able to return home. Mr. Turnbull spoke little the whole time, but he often pressed my hand. He dropped me at Fulham, and said to me at parting: God bless you, my fine boy. I will see you soon.

When I came up to Stapletons rooms, I found Mary alone. She started up as soon as she saw me.

Where have you been, Jacob? she said, half crying, half smiling.

Under the ice, I replied, and only thawed again this morning.
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Are you telling me the truth, Jacob? she exclaimed. Now dont frighten me. Ive been too frightened already. I did not sleep at all last night.

I then told her about the accident.

I was sure something had happened, she replied. You promised to be at home to give me my lesson, and I know you never break your word. But my father smoked away, and said that when boys are having a good time they forget their promises, and that it was nothing but human nature. O Jacob, Im so glad you are back again. After what has happened I dont mind your kissing me for once. And Mary held her face towards me, and returned my kiss.

There, she said laughing, you must not think of another, until youre under the ice again.

Then I am sure it will be the last, I replied laughing.

Mary certainly was a great flirt, still it was impossible not to be fond of her. I often thought what a dangerous girl she would be when she grew up. I did my best to teach her to read and write. She made good progress. But even at the lessons she was trying to flirt with me. Her father declared that it was her nature to run after men, but I saw really good qualities in her character, so that the more I was in her company, the more I liked and respected her.

Old Stapleton came-home in the evening. I told him what had happened, and he at once sent for another pot of beer for Mary and me it was a sign of his good humour.

Captain Turnbull fell seriously ill the morning after the accident. As the cold weather still continued I went and stayed with the old man for many days until he was able to leave his bed.

When he had recovered, and I was about to leave him, he took me by the hand and spoke to me with tears in his eyes.

I have no children, he said, and I am rich, so I want to take care of you to give you everything you need

You have been very kind to me, Sir and I shall never forget it, but if you wish to do me good, let me be as I am free and independent. I want to work for my bread
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Captain Turnbull was silent for a few minutes before he could reply.

God bless you, my boy. Take care of yourself, and dont get under the ice again.

For you I would do it again tomorrow! I exclaimed shaking his hand. I hastened away to see Mary.

Who do you think has been here? she asked after our first greeting.

I cannot guess, I replied. Not old Tom and his son?

No, I dont think it was old Tom, but it was such an old man with such a nose O heavens! I nearly burst laughing when I saw him. Do you know, Jacob, I made love to him, just for fun. You know who it is now?

O yes, you mean the Domine, my schoolmaster.

Yes, he told me so. I talked so much about you, and told him how you were teaching me to read and write, and how fond I was of learning, and how I should like to be married to a learned old man. The old gentleman was very pleased, and sat for two hours talking to me. I invited him to come tonight, as you will have two more of your friends here. Now, who do you think are those?

I have no others except old Tom Beazeley and his son.

Well, its your old Tom after all, and a nice old fellow he is. As for his son Im quite in love with him.

I dont know if the Domine will like to see old Beazeley and his son.

Why not?

I told her the story of the old mans trip on board the lighter. Mary was silent for a while, and then said:

Jacob, did we not read last time that the greatest dangers to men were wine and women?

Yes, we did.

Humph, said she, the old gentleman has given plenty of lessons in his time, now he is going to receive one.

What do you mean?
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Well, he is a very clever, learned man, and Im sure he looks down upon us all1 as silly people. Ill try to give him a lesson.

You, Mary, what can you teach him?

We shall see.

She paused again, and then said:

Jacob, I hope you wont be so foolish again, for I dont want to lose my teacher.

No, no. I shall teach you all you want to know before I die, I replied.

Dont be so sure of that, she exclaimed, looking into my eyes. May be I want to know more than you can teach.

Well, if so, Ill ask young Tom Beazeley to take my place. Youre half in love with him already, I replied laughing.

Well, he is a nice fellow. He laughs more than you do, Jacob.

He has suffered less, I replied sadly, but, Mary, he is a fine young man, and when you know him you will like him very much.

As I said this I heard her father, who had been to see Captain Turnbull, coming upstairs. He came in good humour, asked for his pipe, and talked of human nature the whole evening. The afternoon of the next day I was giving a lesson to Mary when I heard a well-known voice which was singing a merry song. Mary put away her books, and soon we both saw the open and good-looking face of young Tom. Mary greeted him rather coldly and at once turned to old Tom, who followed his son.

Whew! whats in the wind now, Jacob? Why, we parted the best friends in the world, said Tom looking at Mary.

Pretend to be indifferent to her and see what happens, I advised him.

Oh, thats what it is, is it? he replied. I can do that as well as she can. But I say, Jacob, arent you yourself interested in her? I dont want to be in the way.

Heres my hand upon it, Tom, am not at all interested in her. But take care she is a fast ship, and its not easy to manage her.

Then she is just the girl for me.

Old Tom came up to us.

Well, Jacob, my good boy, he said, so youve been under the water again. I thought you had enough of it when Fleming threw you overboard. However this time you went to save a friend. Im proud of you. Hullo, Mr. Stapleton, he continued as Stapleton entered the room, I was talking to Jacob about his last dive.

Its human nature, replied Stapleton.
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