A NEW CHARACTER INTRODUCED.
The gale was a short-lived one.
On the following morning the wind had decreased to
a moderate breeze, and before night the sea had gone
down sufficiently to allow the boat of Mr Jones’s
sloop to come alongside of the floating light.
Before Jim Welton bade his friends
good-bye, he managed to have an earnest and private
talk with each of them. Although he had never
been connected with the Gull, he had frequently met
with the men of that vessel, and, being one of those
large-hearted sympathetic men who somehow worm themselves
into the affection and confidence of most of their
friends and comrades, he had something particular to
say to each, either in reference to wives and families
on shore, or to other members of that distracting
section of the human family which, according to Mr
Welton senior, lay at the foundation of all mischief.
But young Welton did not confine himself
to temporal matters. It has already been hinted
that he had for some time been in the habit of attending
prayer-meetings, but the truth was that he had recently
been led by a sailor’s missionary to read the
Bible, and the precious Word of God had been so blessed
to his soul, that he had seen his own lost condition
by nature, and had also seen, and joyfully accepted,
Jesus Christ as his all-sufficient Saviour.
He had come to “know the truth,” and “the
truth had set him free;” free, not only from
spiritual death and the power of sin, but free from
that unmanly shame which, alas! too often prevents
Christians from taking a bold stand on the Lord’s
The young sailor had, no doubt, had
severe inward conflicts, which were known only to
God and himself, but he had been delivered and strengthened,
for he was not ashamed of Christ in the presence of
his old comrades, and he sought by all the means in
his power to draw them to the same blessed Saviour.
“Well, good-bye, Jim,”
said Mr Welton, senior, as his son moved towards the
gangway, when the boat came alongside, “all I’ve
got to say to ’ee, lad, is, that you’re
on dangerous ground, and you have no right to shove
yourself in the way of temptation.”
“But I don’t shove
myself, father; I think I am led in that way.
I may be wrong, perhaps, but such is my belief.”
“You’ll not forget that
message to my mother,” whispered a sickly-looking
seaman, whose strong-boned frame appeared to be somewhat
attenuated by disease.
“I’ll not forget, Rainer.
It’s likely that we shall be in Yarmouth in
a couple of days, and you may depend upon my looking
up the old woman as soon after I get ashore as possible.”
“Hallo! hi!” shouted a
voice from below, “wot’s all the hurry?”
cried Dick Moy, stumbling hastily up on deck while
in the act of closing a letter which bore evidence
of having been completed under difficulties, for its
form was irregular, and its back was blotted.
“Here you are, putt that in the post at Yarmouth,
will ’ee, like a good fellow?”
“Why, you’ve forgotten
the address,” exclaimed Jim Welton in affected
“No, I ’aven’t. There it is
hall right on the back.”
“What, that blot?”
“Ay, that’s wot stands
for Mrs Moy,” said Dick, with a good-natured
“Sure now,” observed Jerry
MacGowl, looking earnestly at the letter, “it
do seem to me, for all the world, as if a cat had drawed
his tail across it after stumblin’ over a ink-bottle.”
“Don’t Mrs Moy live in Ramsgate?”
inquired Jim Welton.
“Of course she do,” replied Dick.
“But I’m not going there; I’m goin’
to Yarmouth,” said Jim.
“Wot then?” retorted Dick,
“d’ee suppose the clerk o’ the post-office
at Yarmouth ain’t as well able to read as the
one at Ramsgate, even though the writin’ do
be done with a cat’s tail? Go along with
Thus dismissed, Jim descended the
side and was quickly on board the sloop Nora to which
On the deck of the little craft he
was received gruffly by a man of powerful frame and
stern aspect, but whose massive head, covered with
shaggy grey curling hair, seemed to indicate superior
powers of intellect. This was Morley Jones,
the master and owner of the sloop.
“A pretty mess you’ve
made of it; I might have been in Yarmouth by this
time,” he said, testily.
“More likely at the bottom of
the sea,” answered Jim, quietly, as he went
aft and looked at the compass more from
habit than from any desire to receive information
from that instrument.
“Well, if I had been at the
bottom o’ the sea, what then? Who’s
to say that I mayn’t risk my life if I see fit?
It’s not worth much,” he said, gloomily.
“You seem to forget that in
risking your own life you risk the lives of those
who sail along with you,” replied Jim, with a
bold yet good-humoured look at the skipper.
“And what if I do risk their
lives? they ain’t worth much, either,
“Not to you, Morley, but worth
a good deal to themselves, not to mention their wives
and families and friends. You know well enough
that if I had wished ever so much to return aboard
last night your boat could not have got alongside
the Gull for the sea. Moreover, you also know
that if you had attempted to put to sea in such weather,
this leaky tub, with rotten sails and running gear,
would have been a wreck on the Goodwin sands before
now, and you and I, with the two men and the boy, would
have been food for the gulls and fishes.”
“Not at all,” retorted
Jones, “there’s not much fear of our lives
here. The lifeboat crews are too active for that;
and as to the sloop, why, she’s insured you
know for her full value for more than her
Jones said this with a chuckle and
a sly expression in his face, as he glanced meaningly
at his companion.
“I know nothing about your insurance
or your cargo, and, what’s more, I don’t
want to know,” said Jim, almost angrily.
“You’ve been at Square-Tom again,”
he added, suddenly laying his hand upon the shoulder
of his companion and looking earnestly into his eyes.
It was now Jones’s turn to be
angry, yet it was evident that he made an effort to
restrain his feelings, as he replied, “Well,
what if I have? It’s one thing for you
to advise me to become a teetotaller, and it’s
quite another thing for me to agree to do it.
I tell you again, as I’ve often told you before,
Jim Welton, that I don’t mean to do it,
and I’m not going to submit to be warned and
reasoned with by you, as if you was my grandfather.
I know that drink is the curse of my life,
and I know that it will kill me, and that I am a fool
for giving way to it, but it is the only thing that
makes me able to endure this life; and as for the
next, I don’t care for it, and I don’t
believe in it.”
“But your not believing in it
does not make it less certain,” replied Jim,
quietly, but without any approach to solemnity in his
tone or look, for he knew that his companion was not
in a mood just then to stand such treatment.
“You remember the story of the ostrich that
was run down? Finding that it could not escape,
it stuck its head in the sand and thought that nobody
saw it. You may shut your eyes, Morley, but facts
remain facts for all that.”
“Shutting my eyes is just what
I am not doing,” returned Jones, flinging
round and striding to the other side of the deck; then,
turning quickly, he strode back, and added, with an
oath, “have I not told you that I see myself,
my position, and my prospects, as clearly as you do,
and that I intend to face them all, and take the consequences?”
Jim Welton flushed slightly, and his
eyes dilated, as he replied
“Have you not the sense to see,
Morley Jones, that my remonstrances with you are at
least disinterested? What would you think if
I were to say to you, `Go, drink your fill till death
finds you at last wallowing on the ground like a beast,
or worse than a beast; I leave you to your fate?’”
“I would think that Jim Welton
had changed his nature,” replied Jones, whose
anger disappeared as quickly as it came. “I
have no objection to your storming at me, Jim.
You may swear at me as much as you please, but, for
any sake, spare me your reasonings and entreaties,
because they only rouse the evil spirit within me,
without doing an atom of good; and don’t talk
of leaving me. Besides, let me tell you, you
are not so disinterested in this matter as you think.
There is some one in Yarmouth who has something to
do with your interest in me.”
The young man flushed again at the
close of this speech, but not from a feeling of anger.
He dropt his eyes before the earnest though unsteady
gaze of his half-tipsy companion, who burst into a
loud laugh as Jim attempted some stammering reply.
“Come,” he added, again
assuming the stern aspect which was natural to him,
but giving Jim a friendly slap on the shoulder, “don’t
let us fall out, Jim you and I don’t want to
part just now. Moreover, if we have a mind to
get the benefit of the tide to-night, the sooner we
up anchor the better, so we won’t waste any
more time talking.”
Without waiting for a reply, Mr Jones
went forward and called the crew. The anchor
was weighed, the sails were set, and the sloop Nora bending
over before the breeze, as if doing homage in passing
her friend the Gull-Light put to sea, and
directed her course for the ancient town and port