Gambar halaman

we must perforce of human nature sail under false colors, why then, in God's name, let us run 'em up as high as possible. Let us pretend to something higher and nobler and better than our naked selves; and so shall we most surely find our very selves ennobled in the process of simulation. We shall imbibe a something of the ideal which we personate, and be by so much the tter for our false pretences. Was not even the monkey that cleaned his teeth with his master's brush a better and a more respectable monkey for this, that his teeth were clean?

What are you doing, my boy? Reading biography ? Right! Rake well among those dry bones; reconstruct the moral anatomy of your defunct warrior, statesman, Christian hero; dress him in modern costume, and take him for your model in the masquerade of life ; for this is your very “hero-worship" that makes men heroic! Throw your chest out, your head erect, eyes far to the front, and say to yourself and to the world : “There shall be brave men after Agamemnon!" There be some who will laugh at you - - affect to ridicule your “mockheroics.” Never stop nor stay for them : they wear the motley, and 'tis their role to laugh. But in this course of imitation have a care lest you confound trifles (of idiocrasy or incident) with matters of graver import and significance. Above all, beware of simulating the vices of your hero to the neglect of his virtues; by so doing you may escape the fate of the misguided youth who, having read the story of Alexander and untamed Bucephalus, was violently attacked by the idea that he also would “break” a colt, and be by consequence a conqueror. He broke his neck — rather a personal inconvenience than a public calamity. Infidelity will not inake a Shelley of you. There was something better in Byron than “gin-fizzles" and lasciviousness; and the old coat, white hat and bad handwriting were by no means the essentials of “Honest Old Horace."

Touching the most difficult and delicate head of this excursive discourse, dissimulation, it were perhaps the part of prudence to say nothing Some one

was it Scarron? - would have it “All men are fools as well as liars”; and says he, “I myself am perhaps a greater liar than the rest, but I deserve some credit for frankness in owning it.” A certain somewhat casuistical friend of mine, a soldier and a strategist by the way, defines the act of lying thus: “The telling of a falsehood to one who has a right to the truth.” However this may be, 'tis useless to argue the matter ex parte. Let us rather wait until somebody tries the experiment of living without lying. We venture the prediction that he will be kicked out of the first house he enters clothed in his outrageously unfashionable and indecent "garb of truth and simplicity."


[ocr errors]



'ER a firwood trencher the housewife bent,

With bare arms kneading the barley bread; And her eyes to the path oft wandering went,

That down to the Fïord led.


_“He is late; – no boat in the offing yet;

My loaf will be brown as a pinetree-cone : She muttered with feverish fume and fret,

As she heated the baking-stone.

Anon at the door a knock was heard ;

And out in the gloaming clear and keen, In well-worn mantle of lynx-skin furred,

Was a shivering traveller seen.

Out-stretching his frost-pinch'd palm, he spake,

“For the love of God, a bit of dough Now lay on the hearth for me, and bake!”

And ashamed to say him, No,

A miserly morsel the kneader chose,

And as in her hand it moulded lay,
A-sudden, it spread, and swelled, and rose,

Till it covered the kneading-tray !

“Nay, here is too much !”— and she rolled a piece

Like a curlew's egg: But as quick as thought, It overran with its strange increase,

The table at which she wrought.

“ See! this shall suffice !”- she cried amain,

And choosing what lightly an acorn-cup Might carry, she shapened it: Lo! again

It grew to an armful up.

“Beshrew thee!”- she flashed, and her cheek waxed bright

As her crimson cap :-“Nor great, nor small Be any the loaf bestowed to-night;

My Oldsen and I keep all !”

— Then sternly the stranger spake: “Yea, though

Thou hadst more than thy utmost need sufficed,
In thy greed thou wouldst share with none: for know,

The beggar who pleads is — Christ!

“And now to the doom decreed thee, bark !

Thy food, as a bird, (from thy kind accurst,)
Thou shalt painfully seek 'twixt wood and bark,

And save when it rains, shalt thirst ! ”

[blocks in formation]


NAPTAIN BARKER, of the bark Harvest Moon, was well-known

in the coast cities of the Southern States, and was everywhere recognised as a genuine specimen of his craft. Short, stout, redfaced, bald, bluff, and jolly, he was also firm as an officer, requiring the full measure of duty from his subordinates, and meting out to all with 'whom he had dealings the most even-handed justice. He was such an off-hand character that he had earned among the shipping.merchants, to whom he had long been known, the sobriquet of "Honest Captain Billy”; and let the channels of trade flow ever so sluggishly, he found but little difficulty in obtaining a profitable freight for the Harvest Moon whenever she was ready to receive, and seemed equally successful as a rule - in obtaining good seamen. If we are to judge from his excited manner as he now walks the deck and plainly speaks his mind to two sailors who are lazily engaged in swabbing-off, he has for once been deceived in choosing men ; but his determination

1 is quickly taken.

“Mind's made up, boys, you don't suit; ’twould give me a fit to ship you another voyage. So we will settle, and consider yourselves discharged from now.

“So short up as that, Cap'?” questioned one of the men, as he turned to take a look at Captain Barker.

“Yes; you have come short of duty the whole voyage through, and have been a little worse than ever since we reached Norfolk. This is my last day for taking in cargo, but go you shall, and I'll trust to luck for getting better men. No deck-hand ever yet dictated terms to me. When a man don't suit me we part company, and I have never yet been worsted by following this rule. Laziness and Barker never sailed in the same craft before you shipped with me, and I don't mean to carry any more Jonahs if I can help it."

“Cap's in yearnest, Jack, we'd as well pack our traps," said the spokesinan to his companion. "Let's go ashore and leave him to

' take in this last bit of cargo any way he likes, as he's so blarsted huffy,” and both the sailors walked toward the forecastle.

The Captain had not observed the keen interest with which two strangers standing on the wharf had listened to his abrupt and summary dismissal of the men, and he would probably have gone ashore without noticing their presence had not one of them accosted him as he left the gang-plank. With a respectful touch of his blue cap he smiled pleasantly as he said: "Beg pardon, Captain, but we saw you dismiss two men just now, and would be pleased to know if you would like hands in their stead."

Captain Barker turned suddenly and measured the speaker with his keen eyes from head to foot, then scrutinised his companion with equal closeness. They were dressed in new suits of navy blue, had the well-to-do air of men just paid off, and were altogether so respectable in appearance and manner as to arrest his attention and induce him to question them further. “I do want men, my lads, but have had quite enough of such as you saw walk plank just now. Where are you from, and in what vessel did you ship last?"

The stouter of the two continued to act as spokesman, and replied: “We came out from England, Sir, in an emigrant-ship, but have soon grown tired of this wild country — all brush and swamp so we are looking for a good chance to work a passage home.”

“Have you ever shipped before ?"
“Oh yes, Sir ; we are at home aboard ship.”

live in London ?”
“As much as sailors do anywhere, Sir. I was born there."
"But your companion looks like a foreigner?".
"Only of foreign parentage, Sir ; he's an Englisher too."

“Well, lads, I like your looks, come with me up to the Consul's office and we will see if we can come to terms. Captain Billy Barker is a duty man, all the sailors say, rough but right. If a man signs my ship's articles I expect him to do all he promises, nothing more, nothing less. If he does his duty all goes well; if he shirks, the Harvest Moon is the most uncomfortable place he could possibly have chosen for a voyage. That's my picture, how do you like it?' and he laughed with a jolly shake as he paused in his walk and looked them full in the face.

“Well enough on a short acquaintance, Captain. Afore the mast is no child's play, and we expect to earn our wages, so it's not likely we will fall out about work. We promise, too, a civil tongue, and hope the same from you. Orders are orders, but there's a civil way, and we hope you will take that way, for it's our experience that men think more of themselves when officers don't browbeat 'em."

[ocr errors]

“ Do

“That's smooth talk, lad, but I can't promise much on the score of civility. I never swear at my men, but I don't polish up much when I want things done in a hurry. Imagine Captain Billy Barker saying, "Jack, you'll please port that helm,' and Jack's replying, ' Aye, aye, Sir, with pleasure.' I should think in such circumstances that I was at a dancing-school. No! I speak short and sharp, but I don't mean anything, but business, and my men must take me rough and tumble, as the old saying goes."

The sailor and his companion exchanged glances and then they took a searching look at the Captain; the one coolly calculating and valuing all the positive elements in the character of his man; the other — with those restless fiery eyes that our readers will remember - looking as if a rough word from the captain would speedily precipitate a rough and tumble of an unpleasant nature. Seeing the danger that threatened their plan should there be even a slight display of anything looking toward insubordination at this early stage of their negotiation, Hardy Flint (for it was he that had undertaken to manage the captain while Armero should be silent) now quickly answered: “We understand you, Captain, and are willing to ship and take chances. I've sailed with worse than you and lived through it. Barking dogs don't bite."

Within an hour after this conversation, Flint and Armero had signed the ship's articles as “Jem Stone” and “Charles Romer," had brought their movables on board the Harvest Moon, and were hard at work stowing cargo. The quickness and promptitude with

. which they proceeded with their work, and the intelligence with which they labored, soon convinced the captain that he had not in his emergency accepted the services of raw hands; good fortune had once more favored him with men who at least understood their work, and ere night came on he was heard to say, "Well, the new brooms sweep very clean at any rate, and I'll keep them sweeping. That sharp-eyed fellow must work all the time, or the devil will play rare pranks with him.”

The last bale of cotton had been stowed, and the new hands had given so much dispatch to the business that the captain, who was now more jolly than usual at the prospect of sailing so promptly, could not refrain from a word of encouragement as he passed near them. “You have done well, lads; I never had men who more thoroughly understood business; we will now get off bright and early in the morning.” And the captain rubbed his hands gleefully as he went ashore, leaving Flint and Armero to congratulate each other on having made so good an impression.

“We have the wool over his eyes pretty well, Hardy," Armero whispered, " and no small thanks to Mr. Jem Stone.' I came near spoiling it all by my foolish temper when the old fellow began to talk roughly to us, though."

Carlos, I always remember what the clown in the show told the lion-tamer when he put his head in the lion's mouth : ‘Don't pinch his tail now.' It's a bad time to pinch the lion when he can pinch the hardest. We have got the old fellow on our side now, and it is the part of wisdom to keep him there. Should it ever grow unhealthy for

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »