TREATS OF TENDER SUBJECTS OF A PECULIAR
KIND, AND SHOWS HOW BILLY TOWLER GOT INTO SCRAPES
AND OUT OF THEM.
The fact that we know not what a day
may bring forth, receives frequent, and sometimes
very striking, illustration in the experience of most
people. That the day may begin with calm and
sunshine, yet end in clouds and tempest or
vice versa is a truism which need
not be enforced. Nevertheless, it is a truism
which men are none the worse of being reminded of
now and then. Poor Billy Towler was very powerfully
reminded of it on the day following his night-adventure
with the ravens; and his master was taught that the
best-laid plans of men, as well as mice, are apt to
get disordered, as the sequel will show.
Next morning the look-out on board
the Gull lightship reported the Trinity steam-tender
in sight, off the mouth of Ramsgate harbour, and the
ensign was at once hoisted as an intimation that she
had been observed.
This arrangement, by the way, of hoisting
a signal on board the floating lights when any of
the Trinity yachts chance to heave in sight, is a
clever device, whereby the vigilance of light-ship
crews is secured, because the time of the appearing
of these yachts is irregular, and, therefore, a matter
of uncertainty. Every one knows the natural and
almost irresistible tendency of the human mind to relax
in vigilance when the demand on attention is continual that
the act, by becoming a mere matter of daily routine,
loses much of its intensity. The crews of floating
lights are, more than most men, required to be perpetually
on the alert, because, besides the danger that would
threaten innumerable ships should their vessels drift
from their stations, or any part of their management
be neglected, there is great danger to themselves of
being run into during dark stormy nights or foggy days.
Constant vigilance is partly secured, no doubt, by
a sense of duty in the men; it is increased by the
feeling of personal risk that would result from carelessness;
and it is almost perfected by the order for the hoisting
of a flag as above referred to.
The superintendent of the district
of which Ramsgate is head-quarters, goes out regularly
once every month in the tender to effect what is styled
“the relief,” that is, to change
the men, each of whom passes two months aboard and
one month on shore, while the masters and mates alternately
have a month on shore and a month on board. At
the same time he puts on board of the four vessels
of which he has charge namely, the Goodwin,
the Gull, the South-sandhead, and the
Varne light-ships, water, coal,
provisions, and oil for the month, and such stores
as may be required; returning with the men relieved
and the empty casks and cans, etcetera, to Ramsgate
harbour. Besides this, the tender is constantly
obliged to go out at irregular intervals it
may be even several times in a week for
the purpose of replacing buoys that have been shifted
by storms marking, with small green buoys,
the spot where a vessel may have gone down, and become
a dangerous obstruction in the “fair way” taking
up old chains and sinkers, and placing new ones
painting the buoys and visiting the North
and South Foreland lighthouses, which are also under
the district superintendent’s care.
On all of these occasions the men
on duty in the floating lights are bound to hoist
their flag whenever the tender chances to pass them
within sight, on pain of a severe reprimand if the
duty be neglected, and something worse if such neglect
be of frequent occurrence. In addition to this,
some of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House make
periodical visits of inspection to all the floating
lights round the coasts of England; and this they
do purposely at irregular times, in order, if possible,
to catch the guardians of the coast napping; and woe
betide “the watch” on duty if these inspecting
Brethren should manage to get pretty close to any
light-ship without having received the salute of recognition!
Hence the men of the floating lights are kept ever
on the alert, and the safety of the navigation, as
far as human wisdom can do it, is secured. Hence
also, at whatever time any of our floating lights
should chance to be visited by strangers, they, like
our lighthouses, will invariably be found in perfect
working order, and as clean as new pins, except, of
course, during periods of general cleaning up or painting.
Begging pardon for this digression,
we return to Billy Towler, whose delight with the
novelty of his recent experiences was only equalled
by his joyous anticipations of the stirring sea-life
that yet lay before him.
The satisfaction of Mr Jones, however,
at the success of his late venture, was somewhat damped
by the information that he would have to spend the
whole day on board the tender. The district superintendent,
whose arduous and multifarious duties required him
to be so often afloat that he seemed to be more at
home in the tender than in his own house ashore, was
a man whose agreeable manners, and kind, hearty, yet
firm disposition, had made him a favourite with every
one in the service. Immediately on his boarding
the Gull, he informed the uninvited and unfortunate
guests of that floating light that he would be very
glad to take them ashore, but that he could not do
so until evening, as, besides effecting “the
relief,” he meant to take advantage of the calm
weather to give a fresh coat of paint to one or two
buoys, and renew their chains and sinkers, and expressed
a hope that the delay would not put them to much inconvenience.
Stanley Hall, between whom and the
superintendent there sprang up an intimate and sympathetic
friendship almost at first sight, assured him that
so far from putting him to inconvenience it would afford
him the greatest pleasure to spend the day on board.
Billy Towler heard this arrangement come to with
an amount of satisfaction which was by no means shared
by his employer, who was anxious to report the loss
of the Nora without delay, and to claim the insurance
money as soon as possible. He judged it expedient,
however, to keep his thoughts and anxieties to himself,
and only vented his feelings in a few deep growls,
which, breaking on the ears of Billy Towler, filled
the heart of that youthful sinner with additional
“Wot a savage he is!”
said Dick Moy, looking at Jones, and addressing himself
“Ah, ain’t he just!” replied the
“Has he not bin good to ’ee?”
asked the big seaman, looking down with a kindly expression
at the small boy.
Billy’s cautious reply. “I say, Neptune,”
he added, looking up into Dick’s face, “wot’s
“It ain’t Neptune, anyhow,”
replied Dick. “That’s wot we’ve
called the big black Noofoundland dog you sees over
there a-jumping about Jim Welton as if he had falled
in love with him.”
“Why is it so fond of him?” asked Billy.
Dick replied to this question by relating
the incident of the dog’s rescue by Jim.
Well, but wot is your name?” said Billy,
returning to the point.
“Of course I know that; I’ve
heerd ’em all call ye that often enough, but
I ’spose you’ve got another?”
“Moy,” said the big seaman.
“Moy, eh?” cried Billy,
with a grin, “that is a funny name, but
there ain’t enough of it for my taste.”
The conversation was interrupted at
this point by the superintendent, who, having been
for many years in command of an East Indiaman, was
styled “Captain.” He ordered the
mate and men whose turn it was to be “relieved”
to get into the tender along with the strangers.
Soon afterwards the vessel steamed away over the
glassy water, and Billy, who had taken a fancy to
the big lamplighter, went up to him and said
“Well, Dick Moy, where are we agoin’ to
Dick pointed to a black speck on the
water, a considerable distance ahead of them.
“We’re agoin’ to
that there buoy, to lift it and put down a noo un.”
“Oh, that’s a boy, is
it? and are them there boys too?” asked Billy,
looking round at the curious oval and conical cask-like
things, of gigantic proportions, which lumbered the
deck and filled the hold of the tender.
“Ay, they’re all buoys.”
“None of ’em girls?” inquired the
“No, none of ’em,”
replied Dick with equal gravity, for to him the joke
was a very stale one.
“No? that’s stoopid now;
I’d ’ave ’ad some of ’em
girls for variety’s sake wot’s
the use of ’em?” asked the imp, who pretended
ignorance, in order to draw out his burly companion.
“To mark the channels,”
replied Dick. “We puts a red buoy on one
side and a checkered buoy on t’other, and if
the vessels keeps atween ’em they goes all right if
not, they goes ashore.”
“H’m, that’s just
where it is now,” said Billy. “If
I had had the markin’ o’ them there
channels I’d ‘ave put boys on one
side an’ girls on t’other all the way
up to London made a sort o’ country
dance of it, an’ all the ships would ‘ave
gone up the middle an’ down agin, d’ye
“Port, port a little,” said the captain
at that moment.
“Port it is, sir,” answered Mr Welton,
senior, who stood at the wheel.
The tender was now bearing down on
one of the numerous buoys which mark off the channels
around the Goodwin sands, and it required careful
steering in order to avoid missing it on the one hand,
or running into it on the other. A number of
men stood on the bow of the vessel, with ropes and
boat-hooks, in readiness to catch and make fast to
it. These men, with the exception of two or
three who formed the permanent crew of the tender,
were either going off to “relieve” their
comrades and take their turn on board the floating
lights, or were on their way to land, having been
“relieved” such as George Welton
the mate, Dick Moy, and Jerry MacGowl. Among
them were several masters and mates belonging to the
light-vessels of that district sedate, grave,
cheerful, and trustworthy men, all of them who
had spent the greater part of their lives in the service,
and were by that time middle-aged or elderly, but
still, with few exceptions, as strong and hardy as
Jerry, being an unusually active and
powerful fellow, took a prominent part in all the
duties that devolved on the men at that time.
That these duties were not light might
have been evident to the most superficial observer,
for the buoys and their respective chains and sinkers
were of the most ponderous and unwieldy description.
Referring to this, Stanley Hall said,
as he stood watching the progress of the work, “Why,
captain, up to this day I have been in the habit of
regarding buoys as trifling affairs, not much bigger
or more valuable than huge barrels or washing-tubs,
but now that I see them close at hand, and hear all
you tell me about them, my respect increases wonderfully.”
“It will be increased still
more, perhaps,” replied the captain, “when
I tell you the cost of some of them. Now, then,
MacGowl, look out are you ready?”
“All ready, sir.”
“Port a little steady.”
“Steady!” replied Mr Welton.
“Arrah! howld on och!
stiddy heave hooray!” cried
the anxious Irishman as he made a plunge at the buoy
which was floating alongside like a huge iron balloon,
bumping its big forehead gently, yet heavily, against
the side of the tender, and, in that simple way conveying
to the mind of Stanley an idea of the great difficulty
that must attend the shifting of buoys in rough weather.
The buoy having been secured, an iron
hook and chain of great strength were then attached
to the ring in its head. The chain communicated
with a powerful crane rigged up on the foremast, and
was wrought by a steam windlass on deck.
“You see we require stronger
tackle,” said the captain to Stanley, while
the buoy was being slowly raised. “That
buoy weighs fully three-quarters of a ton, and cost
not less, along with its chain and sinker, than 150
pounds, yet it is not one of our largest. We
have what we call monster buoys, weighing considerably
more than a ton, which cost about 300 pounds apiece,
including a 60-fathom chain and a 30-hundred-weight
sinker. Those medium-sized ones, made of wood
and hooped like casks, cost from 80 pounds to 100
pounds apiece without appendages. Even that
small green fellow lying there, with which I intend
to mark the Nora, if necessary, is worth 25 pounds,
and as there are many hundreds of such buoys all round
the kingdom, you can easily believe that the guarding
of our shores is somewhat costly.”
“Indeed it must be,” answered
Stanley; “and if such insignificant-looking
things cost so much, what must be the expense of maintaining
floating lights and lighthouses?”
“I can give you some idea of
that too,” said the captain
“Look out!” exclaimed the men at that
“Och! be aisy,” cried
Jerry, ducking as he spoke, and thus escaping a blow
from the buoy, which would have cracked his head against
the vessel’s side like a walnut.
“Heave away, lad!”
The man at the windlass obeyed.
The irresistible steam-winch caused the huge chain
to grind and jerk in its iron pulley, and the enormous
globular iron buoy came quietly over the side, black
here and brown there, and red-rusted elsewhere; its
green beard of sea-weed dripping with brine, and its
sides grizzled with a six-months’ growth of
barnacles and other shell-fish.
It must not be supposed that, although
the engine did all the heavy lifting, the men had
merely to stand by and look on. In the mere
processes of capturing the buoy and making fast the
chains and hooks, and fending off, etcetera, there
was an amount of physical effort straining
and energising on the part of the men, that
could scarcely be believed unless seen. Do not
fancy, good reader, that we are attempting to make
much of a trifle in this description. Our object
is rather to show that what might very naturally be
supposed to be trifling and easy work, is, in truth,
very much the reverse.
The buoy having been lifted, another
of the same size and shape, but freshly painted, was
attached to the chain, tumbled over the side, and
left in its place. In this case the chain and
sinker did not require renewing, but at the next [one]
visited it was found that buoy, chain, and sinker
had to be lifted and renewed.
And here again, to a landsman like
Stanley, there was much to interest and surprise.
If a man, ignorant of such matters, were asked what
he would do in the event of his having to go and shift
one of those buoys, he might probably reply, “Well,
I suppose I would first get hold of the buoy and hoist
it on board, and then throw over another in its place;”
but it is not probable that he would reflect that this
process involved the violent upturning of a mass of
wood or metal so heavy that all the strength of the
dozen men who had to struggle with it was scarce sufficient
to move gently even in the water; that, being upturned,
an inch chain had to be unshackled a process
rendered troublesome, owing to the ponderosity of
the links which had to be dealt with, and the constrained
position of the man who wrought, and that
the chain and sinker had to be hauled out of the sand
or mud into which they had sunk so much, that the
donkey-engine had to strain until the massive chains
seemed about to give way, and the men stood in peril
of having their heads suddenly cut open.
Not to be too prolix on this subject,
it may be said, shortly, that when the chain and sinker
of the next buoy were being hauled in, a three-inch
rope snapped and grazed the finger of a man, fortunately
taking no more than a little of the skin off, though
it probably had force enough to have taken his hand
off if it had struck him differently. Again they
tried, but the sinker had got so far down into the
mud that it would not let go. The engine went
at last very slowly, for it was applying almost the
greatest strain that the chains could bear, and the
bow of the tender was hauled considerably down into
the sea. The men drew back a little, but, after
a few moments of suspense, the motion of the vessel
gradually loosened the sinker and eased the strain.
“There she goes, handsomely,”
cried the men, as the engine again resumed work at
“We sometimes lose chains and
sinkers altogether in that way,” remarked Dick
Moy to Billy, who stood looking on with heightened
colour and glowing eyes, and wishing with all the
fervour of his small heart that the whole affair would
give way, in order that he might enjoy the tremendous
crash which he thought would be sure to follow.
“Would it be a great loss?” he asked.
“It would, a wery great un,”
said Dick; “that there chain an’ sinker
is worth nigh fifty or sixty pound.”
While this work was being done, the
captain was busy with his telescope, taking the exact
bearings of the buoy, to ascertain whether or not it
had shifted its position during the six months’
conflict with tide and tempest that it had undergone
since last being overhauled. Certain buildings
on shore coming into line with other prominent buildings,
such as steeples, chimneys, and windmills, were his
infallible guides, and these declared that the buoy
had not shifted more than a few feet. He therefore
gave the order to have the fresh buoy, with its chain
and sinker, ready to let go.
The buoy in question, a
medium one about eight feet high, five feet in diameter,
and conical in shape stood at the edge of
the vessel, like an extinguisher for the biggest candle
that ever was conceived in the wildest brain at Rome.
Its sinker, a square mass of cast-iron nearly a ton
in weight, lay beside it, and its two-inch chain, every
link whereof was eight or ten inches long, and made
of the toughest malleable iron, was coiled carefully
on the main-hatch, so that nothing should impede its
“All ready?” cried the
captain, taking a final glance through the telescope.
“All ready, sir,” replied
the men, several of whom stood beside the buoy, prepared
to lay violent hands on it, while two stood with iron
levers under the sinker, ready to heave.
“Stand here, Billy, an’
you’ll see it better,” said Dick Moy, with
a sly look, for Dick had by this time learned to appreciate
the mischievous spirit of the urchin.
“Let go!” cried the captain.
“Let go!” echoed the men.
The levers were raised; the thrust
was given. Away went the sinker; overboard went
the buoy; out went the chain with a clanging roar and
a furious rush, and up sprang a column of white spray,
part of which fell in-board, and drenched Billy Towler
to the skin!
As well might Dick Moy have attempted
to punish a pig by throwing it into the mud as to
distress Billy by sousing him with water! It
was to him all but a native element. In fact,
he said that he believed himself to be a hamphiberous
hanimal by nature, and was of the opinion that he
should have been born a merman.
“Hooray! shower-baths free,
gratis, for nothink!” he yelled, as soon as
he had re-caught his breath. “Any more
o’ that sort comin’?” he cried,
as he pulled off his shirt and wrung it.
“Plenty more wery like it,”
said Dick, chuckling, “and to be had wery much
on the same terms.”
“Ah, if you’d only jine
me it would make it so much more pleasant,”
retorted the boy; “but it would take a deal more
water to kiver yer huge carcase.”
“That boy will either make a
first-rate man, or an out-and-out villain,”
observed the captain to Stanley, as they stood listening
to his chaffing remarks.
“He’ll require a deal
of taming,” said Jim Welton, who was standing
by; “but he’s a smart, well-disposed little
fellow as far as I know him.”
Morley Jones, who was seated on the
starboard bulwarks not far off; confided his opinion
to no one, but he was observed to indulge in a sardonic
grin, and to heave his shoulders as if he were agitated
with suppressed laughter when this last remark was
The steamer meanwhile had been making
towards another of the floating lights, alongside
of which some time was spent in transferring the full
water-casks, receiving the “empties,” etcetera,
and in changing the men. The same process was
gone through with the other vessels, and then, in
the afternoon, they returned towards Ramsgate harbour.
On the way they stopped at one of the large buoys
which required to be painted. The weather being
suitable for that purpose, a boat was lowered, black
and white paint-pots and brushes were put into her,
and Jack Shales, Dick Moy, and Jerry MacGowl were
told off to perform the duty. Stanley Hall also
went for pastime, and Billy Towler slid into the boat
like an eel, without leave, just as it pushed off.
“Get out, ye small varmint!”
shouted Jerry; but the boy did not obey; the boat
was already a few feet off from the vessel, and as
the captain either did not see or did not care, Billy
was allowed to go.
“You’ll only be in the
way, an’ git tired of yer life before we’re
half done,” said Dick Moy.
“Never mind, he shall keep me
company,” said Stanley, laughing. “We
will sit in judgment on the work as it proceeds won’t
“Well, sir,” replied the
boy, with intense gravity, “that depends on
whether yer fine-hart edication has bin sufficiently
attended to; but I’ve no objection to give you
the benefit o’ my adwice if you gits into difficulties.”
A loud laugh greeted this remark,
and Billy, smiling with condescension, said he was
gratified by their approval.
A few minutes sufficed to bring them
alongside the buoy, which was one of the largest size,
shaped like a cone, and painted in alternate stripes
of white and black. It rose high above the heads
of the men when they stood up beside it in the boat.
It was made of timber, had a wooden ring round it
near the water, and bore evidence of having received
many a rude buffet from ships passing in the dark.
“A nice little buoy this,”
said Billy, looking at it with the eye and air of
a connoisseur; “wot’s its name?”
“The North Goodwin; can’t
’ee read? don’t ’ee see its name
up there on its side, in letters as long as yerself?”
said Jack Shales, as he stirred up the paint in one
of the pots.
“Ah, to be sure; well, it might
have bin named the Uncommon Good-win,” said
Billy, “for it seems to have seen rough service,
and to have stood it well. Come, boys, look
alive, mix yer colours an’ go to work; England
expecks every man, you know, for to do his dooty.”
“Wot a bag of impudence it is!”
said Dick Moy, catching the ring-bolt on the top of
the buoy with the boat-hook, and holding the boat as
close to it as possible, while his mates dipped their
brushes in the black and white paint respectively,
and began to work with the energy of men who know
that their opportunity may be cut short at any moment
by a sudden squall or increasing swell.
Indeed, calm though the water was,
there was enough of undulation to render the process
of painting one of some difficulty, for, besides the
impossibility of keeping the boat steady, Dick Moy
found that all his strength could not avail to prevent
the artists being drawn suddenly away beyond reach
of their object, and as suddenly thrown against it,
so that their hands and faces came frequently into
contact with the wet paint, and gave them a piebald
For some time Billy contented himself
with looking on and chaffing the men, diversifying
the amusement by an occasional skirmish with Stanley,
who had armed himself with a brush, and was busy helping.
“It’s raither heavy work,
sir, to do all the judgment business by myself;”
he said. “There’s that feller Shales,
as don’t know how a straight line should be
draw’d. Couldn’t ye lend me your
brush, Jack? or p’raps Dick Moy will lend me
his beard, as he don’t seem to be usin’
it just now.”
“Here, Dick,” cried Stanley,
giving up his brush, “you’ve had enough
of the holding-on business; come, I’ll relieve
“Ay, that’s your sort,”
said Billy; “muscle to the boat-’ook, an’
brains to the brush.”
“Hold on tight, sir,”
cried Shales, as the boat gave a heavy lurch away
from the buoy, while the three painters stood leaning
as far over the gunwale as was consistent with safety,
and stretching their arms and brushes towards the
object of their solicitude.
Stanley exerted himself powerfully;
a reactionary swell helped him too much, and next
moment the three men went, heads, hands, and brushes,
plunging against the buoy!
“Och! morther!” cried
Jerry, one of whose black hands had been forced against
a white stripe, and left its imprint there. “Look
at that, now!”
“All right,” cried Shales,
dashing a streak of white over the spot.
“There’s no preventing
it,” said Stanley, apologetically, yet laughing
in spite of himself.
“I say, Jack, this is ’igh
art, this is,” observed Moy, as he drew back
to take another dip, “but I’m free to confess
that I’d raither go courtin’ the girls
than painting the buoys.”
“Oh! Dick, you borrowed
that from me,” cried Billy; “for shame,
“Well, well,” observed
Jerry, “it’s many a time I’ve held
on to a painter, but I niver thought to become wan.
What would ye call this now a landscape
or a portrait?”
“I would call it a marine piece,” said
“How much, sir?” asked
Dick Moy, who had got upon the wooden ring of the
buoy, and was standing thereon attempting, but not
very successfully, to paint in that position.
“A mareeny-piece, you noodle,”
cried Billy; “don’t ye onderstand the
genel’m’n wot’s a sittin’ on
judgment on ’ee? A mareeny-piece is a
piece o’ mareeny or striped kaliko, w’ich
is all the same, and wery poor stuff it is too.
Come, I’ll stand it no longer. I hold
ye in sich contempt that I must look down
So saying, the active little fellow
seized the boat-hook, and swung himself lightly on
the buoy, the top of which he gained after a severe
scramble, amid the indignant shouts of the men.
“Well, since you have gone up
there, we’ll keep you there till we are done.”
“All right, my hearties,”
retorted Billy, in great delight and excitement, as
the men went on with their work.
Just then another heave of the swell
drew the boat away, obliging the painters to lean
far over the side as before, pointing towards their
“pictur,” as Jerry called it, but unable
to touch it, though expecting every moment to swing
within reach again. Suddenly Billy Towler while
engaged, no doubt, in some refined piece of mischief slipped
and fell backwards with a loud cry. His head
struck the side of the boat in passing, as he plunged
into the sea.
“Ah, the poor craitur!”
cried Jerry MacGowl, immediately plunging after him.
Now, it happened that Jerry could
not swim a stroke, but his liking for the boy, and
the suddenness of the accident, combined with his reckless
disposition, rendered him either forgetful of or oblivious
to that fact. Instead of doing any good, therefore,
to Billy, he rendered it necessary for the men to
give their undivided attention to hauling his unwieldy
carcase into the boat.
The tide was running strong at the
time. Billy rose to the surface, but showed
no sign of life. He was sinking again, when Stanley
Hall plunged into the water like an arrow, and caught
him by the hair.
Stanley was a powerful swimmer, but
he could make no headway against the tide that was
running to the southward at the time, and before the
men had succeeded in dragging their enthusiastic but
reckless comrade into the boat, Billy and his friend
had been swept to a considerable distance. As
soon as the oars were shipped, however, they were quickly
overtaken and rescued.
Stanley was none the worse for his
ducking, but poor Billy was unconscious, and had a
large cut in his head, which looked serious.
When he was taken on board the tender, and restored
to consciousness, he was incapable of talking coherently.
In this state he was taken back to Ramsgate and conveyed
to the hospital.
There, in a small bed, the small boy
lay for many weeks, with ample leisure to reflect
upon the impropriety of coupling fun which
is right with mischief which
is emphatically wrong, and generally leads to disaster.
But Billy could not reflect, because he had received
a slight injury to the brain, it was supposed, which
confused him much, and induced him, as his attentive
nurse said, to talk “nothing but nonsense.”
The poor boy’s recently-made
friends paid him all the attention they could, but
most of them had duties to attend to which called them
away, so that, ere long, with the exception of an
occasional visit from Mr Welton of the Gull light,
he was left entirely to the care of the nurses and
house-surgeons, who were extremely kind to him.
Mr Morley Jones, who might have been
expected to take an interest in his protege,
left him to his fate, after having ascertained that
he was in a somewhat critical condition, and, in any
case, not likely to be abroad again for many weeks.
There was one person, however, who
found out and took an apparently deep interest in
the boy. This was a stout, hale gentleman, of
middle age, with a bald head, a stern countenance,
and keen grey eyes. He came to the hospital,
apparently as a philanthropic visitor, inquired for
the boy, introduced himself as Mr Larks, and, sitting
down at his bedside, sought to ingratiate himself
with the patient. At first he found the boy
in a condition which induced him to indulge chiefly
in talking nonsense, but Mr Larks appeared to be peculiarly
interested in this nonsense, especially when it had
reference, as it frequently had, to a man named Jones!
After a time, when Billy became sane again, Mr Larks
pressed him to converse more freely about this Mr Jones,
but with returning health came Billy’s sharp
wit and caution. He began to be more circumspect
in his replies to Mr Larks, and to put questions, in
his turn, which soon induced that gentleman to discontinue
his visits, so that Billy Towler again found himself
in what might with propriety have been styled his
normal condition absolutely destitute of
But Billy was not so destitute as
he supposed himself to be as we shall see.
Meanwhile Morley Jones went about
his special business. He reported the loss of
the sloop Nora; had it advertised in the Gazette;
took the necessary steps to prove the fact; called
at the office of the Submarine Insurance Company,
and at the end of three weeks walked away, chuckling,
with 300 pounds in his pocket!
In the satisfaction which the success
of this piece of business induced, he opened his heart
and mind pretty freely to his daughter Nora, and revealed
not only the fact of Billy Towler’s illness,
but the place where he then lay. Until the money
had been secured he had kept this a secret from her,
and had sent Jim Welton on special business to Gravesend
in order that he might be out of the way for a time,
but, the motive being past, he made no more secret
of the matter.
Nora, who had become deeply interested
in the boy, resolved to have him brought up from Ramsgate
to Yarmouth by means of love, not being possessed
of money. The moment, therefore, that Jim Welton
returned, she issued her commands that he should go
straight off to Ramsgate, find the boy, and, by hook
or crook, bring him to the “Garden of Eden,”
on pain of her utmost displeasure.
“But the thing an’t possible,”
said Jim, “I haven’t got money enough to
“Then you must find money somehow,
or make it,” said Nora, firmly. “That
dear boy must be saved. When he was stopping
here I wormed all his secrets out of his little heart,
bless it ”
“I don’t wonder!”
interrupted Jim, with a look of admiration.
“And what do you think?”
continued the girl, not noticing the interruption,
“he confessed to me that he had been a regular
London thief! Now I am quite sure that God will
enable me to win him back, if I get him here for
I know that he is fond of me and I am equally
sure that he will be lost if he is again cast loose
on the world.”
“God bless you, Nora; I’ll
do my best to fetch him to ’ee, even if I should
have to walk to Ramsgate and carry him here on my shoulders;
but don’t you think it would be as well also
to keep him forgive me, dear Nora, I must
say it to keep him out of your father’s
way? He might teach him to drink, you know,
if he taught him no worse, and that’s bad enough.”
Nora’s face grew pale as she said
“Oh, Jim, are you sure
there is nothing worse that he is likely to teach
him? My father has a great deal of money just
now, I I hope that ”
“Why, Nora, you need not think
he stole it,” said Jim hurriedly, and with a
somewhat confused look; “he got it in the regular
way from the Insurance Company, and I couldn’t
say that there’s anything absolutely wrong in
the business; but ”
The young sailor stopped short and
sighed deeply. Nora’s countenance became
still more pale, and she cast down her eyes, but spoke
not a word for some moments.
“You must bring the boy
to me, Jim,” she resumed, with a sudden start.
“He may be in danger here, but there is almost
certain ruin before him if he is left to fall back
into his old way of life.”
We need not trouble the reader with
a detailed account of the means by which Jim Welton
accomplished his object. Love prevailed as
it always did, always does, and always will and
ere many days had passed Billy Towler was once more
a member of the drunkard’s family, with the sweet
presence of Nora ever near him, like an angel’s
wing overshadowing and protecting him from evil.