Brave and Bold
Horatio Alger, Jr.
Part 3 out of 4
He handed the letter to Robert, who surveyed it with curiosity. It was
postmarked "Boston," and addressed in a bold business hand to "Mrs.
Captain Rushton, Millville."
"Who can be writing to mother from Boston?" thought Robert.
The size of the letter also excited his curiosity. There were two stamps
upon it, and it appeared bulky. Robert hurried home, and rushed into the
kitchen where his mother was at work.
"Here's a letter for you, mother," he said.
"A letter for me!" repeated Mrs. Rushton.
"I don't know who would be likely to write me from there. Open it for
He tore open the envelope. It contained two inclosures--one a letter in
the same handwriting as the address; the other a large sheet of foolscap
rumpled up, and appearing once to have been rolled up, was written in
pencil. Mrs. Rushton had no sooner looked at the latter than she
exclaimed, in agitation: "Robert, it is your father's handwriting. Read
it to me, I am too agitated to make it out."
Robert was equally excited. Was his father still alive, or was this
letter a communication from the dead?
"First let me read the other," he said. "It will explain about this."
His mother sank back into a chair too weak with agitation to stand,
while her son rapidly read the following letter:
"BOSTON, August 15, 1853.
MRS. RUSHTON, DEAR MADAM: The fate
of our ship _Norman_, which left this port now
more than two years since, under the command
of your husband, has until now been veiled
in uncertainty. We had given up all hopes
of obtaining any light upon the circumstances
of its loss, when by a singular chance information
was brought us yesterday. The ship
_Argo_, while in the South Pacific, picked up
a bottle floating upon the surface of the water.
On opening it, it was found to contain two
communications, one addressed to us, the other
to you, the latter to be forwarded to you by
us. Ours contains the particulars of the loss
of the _Norman_, and doubtless your own letter
also contains the same particulars. There
is a bare possibility that your husband is still
alive, but as so long a period has passed since
the letters were written it would not be well
to place too much confidence in such a hope.
But even if Captain Rushton is dead, it will be
a sad satisfaction to you to receive from him
this last communication, and learn the particulars
of his loss. We lose no time in forwarding
to you the letter referred to, and remain,
with much sympathy, yours respectfully,
WINSLOW & CO."
Mrs. Rushton listened to this letter with eager and painful interest,
her hands clasped, and her eyes fixed upon Robert.
"Now read your father's letter," she said, in a low tone.
Robert unfolded the sheet, and his eyes filled with tears as he gazed
upon the well-known handwriting of the father whose loss he had so long
lamented. This letter, too, we transcribe:
"November 7, 1851.
MY DEAR WIFE AND SON: Whether these
lines will ever meet your eyes I know not.
Whether I will be permitted again to look upon
your dear faces, I also am ignorant. The good
ship _Norman_, in which I sailed from Boston
not quite three months ago, is burned to the water's
edge, and I find myself, with five of the
sailors, afloat on the vast sea at the mercy of
the elements, and with a limited supply of food.
The chances are against our ever seeing land.
Hundreds of miles away from any known
shores, our only hope of safety is in attracting
the attention of some vessel. In the broad pathways
of the ocean such a chance is doubtful.
Fortunately I have a few sheets of paper
and a pencil with me, and I write these
lines, knowing well how improbable it is that
you will ever read them. Yet it is a satisfaction
to do what I can to let you know the
position in which I stand.
But for the revengeful and malignant disposition
of one man I should still be walking
the deck of the _Norman_ as its captain.
But to my story: My first mate was a man
named Haley--Benjamin Haley--whose name
you will perhaps remember. He was born in
our neighborhood, or, at all events, once lived
there, being the nephew of old Paul Nichols.
He was a wild young man, and bore a bad reputation.
Finally he disappeared, and, as it
seems, embraced the profession of a sailor. I
was not prepossessed in his favor, and was not
very well pleased to find him my second in
command. However, he was regularly engaged,
and it was of no use for me to say anything
against him. I think, however, that he
suspected the state of my feelings, as, while
studiously polite, I did not make an effort
to be cordial. At any rate, he must have taken
a dislike to me early in the voyage, though
whether at that time he meditated evil, I cannot
After a time I found that he was disposed
to encroach upon my prerogatives as captain
of the vessel, and issue commands which he
knew to be in defiance of my wishes. You can
imagine that I would not pass over such conduct
unnoticed. I summoned him to an interview,
and informed him in decided terms
that I must be master in my own ship. He
said little, but I saw from his expression that
there could thereafter be no amicable relations
I pass over the days that succeeded--days
in which Haley went to the furthest verge of
insolence that he felt would be safe. At
length, carried away by impatience, I reprimanded
him publicly. He grew pale with
passion, turned on his heel, and strode away.
That night I was roused from my sleep by the
cry of 'Fire!' I sprang to my feet and took
immediate measures to extinguish the flames.
But the incendiary had taken care to do his
work so well that it was already impossible.
I did not at first miss Haley, until, inquiring
for him, I learned that he was missing, and
one of the ship's boats. It was evident that
he had deliberately fired the ship in order
to revenge himself upon me. His hatred
must have been extreme, or he would not have
been willing to incur so great a risk. Though
he escaped from the ship, his position in an
open boat must be extremely perilous.
When all hope of saving the ship was
abandoned, we manned the remaining boats
hastily, putting in each such a stock of provisions
as we could carry without overloading the
boats. Twenty-four hours have now passed,
and we are still tossing about on the ocean.
A storm would be our destruction. At this
solemn time, my dear wife, my thoughts turn
to you and my dear son, whom I am likely
never to see again. There is one thing most
of all which I wish you to know, but can hardly
hope that these few lines will reach you. Just
before I left home, on my present voyage, I
deposited five thousand dollars with Mr. Davis,
the superintendent of the factory, in trust for
you, in case I should not return. You will
be surprised to learn that I have so much
money. It has been the accumulation of years,
and was intended as a provision for you and
Robert. I have no reason to doubt the integrity
of Mr. Davis, yet I wish I had acquainted
you with the fact of this deposit, and placed
his written acknowledgment in your hands.
My reason for concealment was, that I might
surprise you at the end of this voyage.
When this letter comes to hand (if it ever
should come to hand), in case the superintendent
has not accounted to you for the money
placed in his hands, let Robert go to him and
claim the money in my name. But I can hardly
believe this to be necessary. Should I never
return, I am persuaded that Mr. Davis will
be true to the trust I have reposed in him,
and come forward like an honest man to your
And now, my dear wife and son, farewell!
My hope is weak that I shall ever again see
you, yet it is possible. May Heaven bless you,
and permit us to meet again in another world,
if not in this!
I shall inclose this letter, and one to my
owners, in a bottle, which I have by me, and
commit it to the sea, trusting that the merciful
waves may waft it to the shore."
Here Captain Rushton signed his name.
The feelings with which Robert read and his mother listened to this
letter, were varied. Love and pity for the husband and father, now
doubtless long dead, were blended with surprise at the revelation of the
deposit made in the hands of the superintendent of the mill.
"Mother," said Robert, "did you know anything of this money father
"No," said Mrs. Rushton, "he never told me. It is strange that Mr. Davis
has never informed us of it. Two years have passed, and we have long
given him up as lost."
"Mother," said Robert, "it is my opinion that he never intends to let us
"I cannot believe he would be so dishonorable."
"But why should he keep back the knowledge? He knows that we are poor
and need the money."
"But he has the reputation of an honorable man."
"Many have had that reputation who do not deserve it," said Robert.
"The temptation must have proved too strong for him."
"What shall we do?"
"I know what I am going to do," said Robert, resolutely. "I am going to
his house, and shall claim restitution of the money which father
intrusted to him. He has had it two years, and, with the interest, it
will amount to nearer six than five thousand dollars. It will be a
"Don't be hasty or impetuous, Robert," said his mother. "Speak to him
"I shall be civil if he is," said Robert.
He took his cap, and putting it on, left the cottage and walked with a
quick pace to the house of the superintendent.
A DISAGEEEABLE SURPRISE.
Mr. Davis was seated in his office, but it was his own personal affairs
rather than the business of the factory that engaged his attention. He
was just in receipt of a letter from his broker in New York, stating
that there were but slender chances of a rise in the price of some
securities in which he had invested heavily. He was advised to sell out
at once, in order to guard against a probable further depreciation. This
was far from satisfactory, since an immediate sale would involve a loss
of nearly a thousand dollars. Mr. Davis felt despondent, and, in
consequence, irritable. It was at this moment that one of the factory
hands came in and told him that Robert Rushton wished to see him.
The superintendent would have refused an interview but for one
consideration. He thought that our hero was about to beg to be taken
back into his employ. This request he intended to refuse, and enjoyed in
advance the humiliation of young Rushton.
"Good-morning, sir," said Robert, removing his hat on entering.
"I suppose you want to be taken back," said the superintendent,
"No, sir," said Robert. "I have come on quite a different errand."
Mr. Davis was disappointed. He was cheated of his expected triumph.
Moreover, looking into our young hero's face, he saw that he was
entirely self-possessed, and had by no means the air of one about to ask
"Then state your business at once," he said, roughly. "My time is too
valuable to be taken up by trifles."
"My business is important to both of us," said Robert. "We have just
received a letter from my father."
The superintendent started and turned pale. This was the most unwelcome
intelligence he could have received. He supposed, of course, that
Captain Rushton was alive, and likely to reclaim the sum, which he was
in no position to surrender,
"Your father!" he stammered. "Where is he? I thought he was dead."
"I am afraid he is," said Robert, soberly.
"Then how can you just have received a letter from him?" demanded Mr.
Davis, recovering from his momentary dismay.
"The letter was inclosed in a bottle, which was picked up in the South
Pacific, and brought to the owners of the vessel. My father's ship was
burned to the water's edge, and at the time of writing the letter he was
afloat on the ocean with five of his sailors in a small boat."
"How long ago was this? I mean when was the letter dated."
"Nearly two years ago--in the November after he sailed."
"Then, of course, he must have perished," said the superintendent, with
a feeling of satisfaction. "However, I suppose your mother is glad to
have heard from him. Is that all you have to tell me?"
"No, sir," said Robert, looking boldly in the face of his former
employer. "My father added in his letter, that just before sailing he
deposited with you the sum of five thousand dollars, to be given to my
mother in case he never returned."
So the worst had come! The dead had revealed the secret which the
superintendent hoped would never be known. He was threatened with ruin.
He had no means of paying the deposit unless by sacrificing all his
property, and it was doubtful whether even then he would be able wholly
to make it up. If Robert possessed his acknowledgment he would have no
defense to make. This he must ascertain before committing himself.
"Supposing this story to be true," he said, in a half-sneering tone,
"you are, of course, prepared to show me my receipt for the money?"
"That my father carried away with him. He did not send it with the
All the superintendent's confidence returned. He no longer felt afraid,
since all evidence of the deposit was doubtless at the bottom of the sea
with the ill-fated captain. He resolved to deny the trust altogether.
"Rushton," he said, "I have listened patiently to what you had to say,
and in return I answer that in the whole course of my life I have never
known of a more barefaced attempt at fraud. In this case you have
selected the wrong customer."
"What!" exclaimed Robert, hardly crediting the testimony of his ears;
"do you mean to deny that my father deposited five thousand dollars with
you just before sailing on his last voyage?"
"I certainly do, and in the most unqualified terms. Had such been the
case, do you think I would have kept the knowledge of it from your
mother so long after your father's supposed death?"
"There might be reasons for that," said Robert, significantly.
"None of your impertinent insinuations, you young rascal," said Mr.
Davis, hotly. "The best advice I can give you is, to say nothing to any
one about this extraordinary claim. It will only injure you, and I shall
be compelled to resort to legal measures to punish you for circulating
stories calculated to injure my reputation."
If the superintendent expected to intimidate Robert by this menace he
was entirely mistaken in the character of our young hero. He bore the
angry words and threatening glances of his enemy without quailing, as
resolute and determined as ever.
"Mr. Davis," he said, "if there is no truth in this story, do you think
my father, with death before his eyes, would have written it to my
"I have no evidence, except your word, that any such letter has been
"I can show it to you, if you desire it, in my father's handwriting."
"We will suppose, then, for a moment, that such a letter has been
received, and was written by your father. I can understand how, being
about to die, and feeling that his family were without provision, he
should have written such a letter with the intention of giving you a
claim upon me, whom he no doubt selected supposing me to be a rich man.
It was not justifiable, but something can be excused to a man finding
himself in such a position."
Robert was filled with indignation as he listened to this aspersion upon
his father's memory. He would not have cared half so much for any insult
"Mr. Davis," he said, boldly, "it is enough for you to cheat my mother
out of the money which my father left her, but when you accuse my father
of fraud you go too far. You know better than any one that everything
which he wrote is true."
The superintendent flushed under the boy's honest scorn, and, unable to
defend himself truthfully, he worked himself into a rage.
"What! do you dare insult me in my own office?" he exclaimed, half
rising from his desk, and glaring at our hero. "Out of my sight at once,
or I may be tempted to strike you!"
"Before I leave you, Mr. Davis," said Robert, undauntedly, "I wish you
to tell me finally whether you deny the deposit referred to in my
"And I tell you, once for all," exclaimed the superintendent, angrily,
"if you don't get out of my office I will kick you out."
"I will leave you now," said our hero, not intimidated; "but you have
not heard the last of me. I will not rest until I see justice done to my
So saying, he walked deliberately from the office, leaving Mr. Davis in
a state of mind no means comfortable. True, the receipt had doubtless
gone to the bottom of the sea with the ill-fated captain, and, as no one
was cognizant of the transaction, probably no claim could be enforced
against his denial. But if the letter should be shown, as Robert would
doubtless be inclined to do, he was aware that, however the law might
decide, popular opinion would be against him, and his reputation would
be ruined. This was an unpleasant prospect, as the superintendent valued
his character. Besides, the five thousand dollars were gone and not
likely to be recovered. Had they still been in his possession, that
would have been some compensation.
Robert left the superintendent's office in deep thought. He understood
very well that it would be impossible to enforce his claim without more
satisfactory testimony than his father's letter. If any one had been
cognizant of the transaction between Mr. Davis and his father it would
have helped matters, but no one, so far as he knew, was even aware that
his father had possessed so large a sum as five thousand dollars. Had
Captain Rushton inclosed the receipt, that would have been sufficient,
but it had probably gone to the bottom with him. But, after all, was it
certain that his father was dead? It was not certain, but our hero was
forced to admit that the chances of his father's being alive were
Finding himself utterly at a loss, he resolved to call upon his firm
friend, Squire Paine, the lawyer. Going to his office, he was fortunate
enough to find him in, and unengaged.
"Good-morning, Robert," said the lawyer, pleasantly.
"Good-morning, sir. You find me a frequent visitor."
"Always welcome," was the pleasant reply. "You know I am your banker,
and it is only natural for you to call upon me."
"Yes, sir," said Robert, smiling; "but it is on different business that
I have come to consult you this morning."
"Go on. I will give you the best advice in my power."
The lawyer listened with surprise to the story Robert had to tell.
"This is certainly a strange tale," he said, after a pause.
"But a true one," said Robert, hastily.
"I do not question that. It affords another illustration of the old
saying that truth is stranger than fiction. That a letter committed to
the deep so many thousand miles away should have finally reached its
destination is very remarkable, I may say Providential."
"Do you think there is any chance of my father being yet alive?"
"There is a bare chance, but I cannot encourage you to place much
reliance upon it."
"If he had been picked up by any vessel I suppose he would have
"You would doubtless have seen him at home before this time in that
case. Still there might be circumstances," added the lawyer, slowly,
"that would prevent his communicating with friends at home. For
instance, his boat might have drifted to some uninhabited island out of
the course of ordinary navigation. I don't say it is at all probable,
but there is such a probability."
"Is there any chance of making Mr. Davis return the money my father
deposited with him?"
"There again there are difficulties. He may demand the return of his
receipt, or he may continue to deny the trust altogether."
"Won't the letter prove anything?"
"It may produce a general conviction that such a deposit was made,
since, admitting the letter to be genuine, no one, considering
especially the character of your father, can readily believe that in the
immediate presence of death he would make any such statement unless
thoroughly reliable. But moral conviction and legal proof are quite
different things. Unless that receipt is produced I don't see that
anything can be done."
"Perhaps my father might have put that in a bottle also at a later
"He might have done so when he became satisfied that there was no chance
of a rescue. But even supposing him to have done it, the chances are
ten to one that it will never find its way to your mother. The reception
of the first letter was almost a miracle."
"I have no doubt you are right, Mr. Paine," said Robert; "but it seems
very hard that my poor father's hard earnings should go to such an
unprincipled man, and my mother be left destitute."
"That is true, Robert, but I am obliged to say that your only hope is in
awakening Mr. Davis to a sense of justice."
"There isn't much chance of that," said Robert, shaking his head.
"If you will leave the matter in my hands, I will call upon him
to-night, and see what I can do."
"I shall feel very glad if you will do so, Squire Paine. I don't want to
leave anything undone."
"Then I will do so. I don't imagine it will do any good, but we can but
Robert left the office, making up his mind to await the report of the
lawyer's visit before moving further.
That evening, the lawyer called at the house of the superintendent. Mrs.
Davis and Halbert were in the room. After a little unimportant
conversation, he said:
"Mr. Davis, may I ask the favor of a few minutes' conversation with you
"Certainly," said the superintendent, quite in the dark as to the
business which had called his guest to the house. He led the way into
another room, and both took seats.
"I may as well say to begin with," commenced the lawyer, "that I call in
behalf of the family of the late Captain Rushton."
The superintendent started nervously.
"That boy has lost no time," he muttered to himself.
"I suppose you understand what I have to say?"
"I presume I can guess," said the superintendent, coldly. "The boy came
into my office this morning, and made a most extraordinary claim, which
I treated with contempt. Finding him persistent I ordered him out of my
office. I need not say that no sane man would for a moment put
confidence in such an incredible story or claim."
"I can't quite agree with you there," said the lawyer, quietly. "There
is nothing incredible about the story. It is remarkable, I grant, but
such things have happened before, and will again."
"I suppose you refer to the picking up of the bottle at sea."
"Yes; I fail to see what there is incredible about it. If the
handwriting can be identified as that of the late Captain Rushton, and
Robert says both his mother and himself recognized it, the story becomes
credible and will meet with general belief."
"I thought you were too sensible and practical a man," said the
superintendent, sneering, "to be taken in by so palpable a humbug. Why,
it reads like a romance."
"In spite of all that, it may be true enough," returned the lawyer,
"You may believe it, if you please. It seems to me quite unworthy of
"Waiving that point, Robert, doubtless, acquainted you with the
statement made in the letter that Captain Rushton, just before sailing
on his last voyage, deposited with you five thousand dollars. What have
you to say to that?"
"What have I to say?" returned the superintendent. "That Captain Rushton
never possessed five thousand dollars in his life. I don't believe he
possessed one quarter of the sum."
"What authority have you for saying that? Did he make you his
confidant?" asked the lawyer, keenly.
"Yes," said the superintendent, promptly. "When last at home, he called
at my house one day, and in the course of conversation remarked that
sailors seldom saved any money. 'For instance,' said he, 'I have
followed the sea for many years, and have many times resolved to
accumulate a provision for my wife and child, but as yet I have scarcely
done more than to begin.' He then told me that he had little more than a
thousand dollars, but meant to increase that, if possible, during his
To this statement Squire Paine listened attentively, fully believing it
to be an impromptu fabrication, as it really was.
"Did he say anything about what he had done with this thousand dollars
or more?" he asked.
"A part he left for his wife to draw from time to time for expenses; the
rest, I suppose, he took with him."
Mr. Paine sat silent for a moment. Things looked unpromising, he
couldn't but acknowledge, for his young client. In the absence of legal
proof, and with an adroit and unscrupulous antagonist, whose interests
were so strongly enlisted in defeating justice, it was difficult to see
what was to be done.
"I understand then, Mr. Davis," he said, finally, "that you deny the
justice of this claim?"
"Certainly I do," said the superintendent. "It is a palpable fraud. This
boy is a precocious young swindler, and will come to a bad end."
"I have a different opinion of him."
"You are deceived in him, then. I have no doubt he got up the letter
"I don't agree with you. I have seen the letter; it is in Captain
Rushton's handwriting. Moreover, I have seen the letter of the owners,
which accompanied it."
The superintendent was in a tight place, and he knew it. But there was
nothing to do but to persist in his denial.
"Then I can only say that Captain Rushton was a party to the fraud," he
"You must be aware, Mr. Davis, that when the public learns the facts in
the case, the general belief will be the other way."
"I can't help that," said the other, doggedly. "Whatever the public
chooses to think, I won't admit the justice of this outrageous claim."
"Then I have only to bid you good-evening," said the lawyer, coldly,
affecting not to see the hand which the superintendent extended. The
latter felt the slight, and foresaw that from others he must expect
similar coldness, but there was no help for it. To restore the money
would be ruin. He had entered into the path of dishonesty, and he was
forced to keep on in it.
ROBERT'S NEW PROJECT.
Mr. Paine called at Mrs. Rushton's cottage, and communicated the
particulars of his interview with the superintendent.
"It is evident," he said, "that Mr. Davis is swayed by his interests,
and feeling legally secure, prefers to defraud you rather than to
surrender the five thousand dollars."
"I wouldn't have believed it of Mr. Davis," said Mrs. Rushton; "he is
considered such a respectable man."
"I have heard rumors that he is dabbling in speculations, and I suspect
he may find it inconvenient to pay away so large a sum of money."
"He had no right to speculate with my mother's money," said Robert,
"You are right there. He should have invested it securely."
"Mr. Paine," said Robert, after a pause, "I have an idea that father is
still living, and that some day I shall find him."
The lawyer shook his head.
"There is not one chance in ten that he is living," he said. "It is only
a fancy of yours."
"It may be, but I can't get it out of my head."
"I hope you will prove correct, but I need not tell you of the many
arguments against such a theory."
"I know them all, but still I believe he is living. Mr. Paine,"
continued Robert, earnestly, "I feel so strongly on the subject that,
with my mother's permission, I, mean to go out into the world in search
"I must say, Robert," said Mr. Paine, "I did not expect such a visionary
scheme from a boy of your good sense. You must see yourself how wild it
"I know it," said our hero; "but I want to take a year, at any rate, to
see the world. If, at the end of that time, I discover no trace of my
father, I will come home content."
"But what will become of your mother during that time?"
"I will leave four hundred dollars in your hands for her. The rest I
will draw for my own uses."
"But you don't expect to travel round the world on two hundred dollars,
surely?" said the lawyer.
"I shall work my way as far as I can," said Robert. "I can't afford to
travel as a gentleman."
"Suppose you find yourself without money in a foreign land?"
"I am not afraid. I am willing to work, and I can make my way."
"Surely, Mrs. Rushton, you do not approve Robert's scheme?" said Mr.
But to his surprise he found that Mrs. Rushton was inclined to regard it
favorably. She seemed to share Robert's belief that her husband was
still living, and that Robert could find him. She was not a woman in the
habit of reasoning, and had no conception of the difficulties in his
way. The money left behind in the hands of Mr. Paine, supplemented by
her own earnings, would be enough to maintain her for two years, and
this thought made her easy, for she had a great dread of poverty and
When the lawyer found how Mrs. Rushton felt on the subject, he ceased
his objections to the plan; for, though he had no confidence in our
young hero's success in the object he had in view, he thought that a
year's tour might benefit him by extending his knowledge of the world
and increasing his self-reliance.
"How soon do you wish to start, Robert?" he asked.
"It will take me a week to get your clothes ready," said Mrs. Rushton.
"Then by a week from Monday I will start," said Robert.
"Have you formed any definite plans about the manner of going?"
"I will go to New York first, and call on the gentleman who got up the
subscription for me. I will tell him my story, and ask his advice."
"The most sensible thing you could do. As to the money, I will have that
ready for you. Of course, you will call on me before you go."
The superintendent had made up his mind that Robert would spread the
report of the deposit, and nervously awaited the result. But to his
relief he observed no change in the demeanor of his fellow-townsmen. He
could only conclude that, for reasons of his own, the boy he had wronged
had concluded to defer the exposure. Next he heard with a feeling of
satisfaction that Robert had decided to go abroad in quest of his
father. He had no doubt that Captain Rushton was dead, and regarded the
plan as utterly quixotic and foolish, but still he felt glad that it had
"If the boy never comes back, I shan't mourn much," he said to himself.
"His mother is a weak woman, who will never give me any trouble, but
this young rascal has a strong and resolute will, and I shall feel more
comfortable to have him out of the way."
When Robert got ready to leave he made a farewell call on the lawyer,
and drew two hundred dollars of his money.
"I don't know but one hundred will do," he said. "Perhaps I ought to
leave five hundred for my mother."
"You carry little enough, Robert. Don't have any anxiety about your
mother. I will not see her suffer."
Robert grasped his hand in earnest gratitude.
"How can I thank you?" he said.
"You need not thank me. I had a warm regard for your father, and shall
be glad to help your mother if there is any occasion. Not only this, but
if in your wanderings you find yourself in a tight place, and in want of
help, write to me, and I will help you."
"You are a true friend," said Robert, gratefully. "I wish my father had
intrusted his money to you instead of to the superintendent."
"I wish he had as matters have turned out, I should have taken care that
your interests did not suffer."
"Oh," exclaimed Robert, fervently, "if I could only find my father, and
bring him home to confront this false friend, and convict him of his
base fraud, I believe I would willingly give ten years of my life."
"That question can only be solved by time. I, too, should earnestly
rejoice if such an event could be brought about. And now, Robert,
good-by, and Heaven bless you. Don't forget that you can count always on
my friendship and assistance."
On the way home Robert fell in with Halbert Davis. Halbert, of course,
knew nothing of the claim made upon his father, but he had heard that
Robert proposed to leave home. He was both sorry and glad on account of
this--sorry because he had hoped to see our hero fall into poverty and
destitution, and enjoy the spectacle of his humiliation. Now he was
afraid Robert would succeed and deprive him of the enjoyment he had
counted upon. On the other hand, Robert's departure would leave the
field free so far as concerned Hester Paine, and he hoped to win the
favor of that young lady in the absence of any competitor. Of this there
was not the slightest chance, but Halbert was blinded by his own vanity
to the obvious dislike which Hester entertained for him.
Now when he saw Robert approaching he couldn't forego the pleasure of a
"So you're going to leave town, Rushton?'" he commenced.
"Yes, Davis," answered Robert, in the same tone. "Shall you miss me
"I guess I shall live through it," said Halbert. "I suppose you are
going because you can't make a living here!"
"Not exactly. However, I hope to do better elsewhere."
"If you're going to try for a place, you'd better not mention that you
got turned out of the factory. You needn't apply to my father for a
"I shan't need any recommendation from your father," said Robert. "He is
about the last man that I would apply to."
"That's where you are right," said Halbert. "What sort of a place are
you going to try for?"
He knew nothing of Robert's intention to seek his father, but supposed
he meant to obtain a situation in Hew York.
"You seem particularly interested in my movements, Davis."
"Call me Mr. Davis, if you please," said Halbert, haughtily.
"When you call me Mr. Rushton, I will return the compliment."
"You are impertinent."
"Not more so than you are."
"You don't seem to realize the difference in our positions."
"No, I don't, except that I prefer my own."
Disgusted with Robert's evident determination to withhold the respect
which he considered his due, Halbert tried him on another tack.
"Have you bidden farewell to Hester Paine?" he asked, with a sneer.
"Yes," said Robert.
"I suppose she was very much affected!" continued Halbert.
"She said she was very sorry to part with me."
"I admire her taste."
"You would admire it more if she had a higher appreciation of you."
"I shall be good friends with her, when you are no longer here to
slander me to her."
"I am not quite so mean as that," said Robert. "If she chooses to like
you, I shan't try to prevent it."
"I ought to be very much obliged to you, I am sure."
"You needn't trouble yourself to be grateful," returned Robert, coolly.
"But I must bid you good-by, as I have considerable to do."
"Don't let me detain you," said Halbert, with an elaborate share of
"I wonder why Halbert hates me so much!" he thought. "I don't like him,
but I don't wish him any harm."
He looked with satisfaction upon a little cornelian ring which he wore
upon one of his fingers. It was of very trifling value, but it was a
parting gift from Hester, and as such he valued it far above its cost.
A DISHONEST BAGGAGE-SMASHER.
On the next Monday morning Robert started for the city. At the moment of
parting he began to realize that he had undertaken a difficult task. His
life hitherto had been quiet and free from excitement. Now he was about
to go out into the great world, and fight his own way. With only two
hundred dollars in his pocket he was going in search of a father, who,
when last heard from was floating in an open boat on the South Pacific.
The probabilities were all against that father's being still alive. If
he were, he had no clew to his present whereabouts.
All this Robert thought over as he was riding in the cars to the city.
He acknowledged that the chances were all against his success, but in
spite of all, he had a feeling, for which he could not account, that his
father was still living, and that he should find him some day. At any
rate, there was something attractive in the idea of going out to
unknown lands to meet unknown adventures, and so his momentary
depression was succeeded by a return of his old confidence.
Arrived in the city, he took his carpetbag in his hand, and crossing the
street, walked at random, not being familiar with the streets, as he had
not been in New York but twice before, and that some time since.
"I don't know where to go," thought Robert. "I wish I knew where to find
some cheap hotel."
Just then a boy, in well-ventilated garments and a rimless straw hat,
with a blacking box over his shoulder, approached.
"Shine your boots, mister?" he asked.
Robert glanced at his shoes, which were rather deficient in polish, and
finding that the expense would be only five cents, told him to go ahead.
"I'll give you the bulliest shine you ever had," said the ragamuffin.
"That's right! Go ahead!" said Robert.
When the boy got through, he cast a speculative glance at the carpetbag.
"Smash yer baggage?" le asked.
"Carry yer bag."
"Do you know of any good, cheap hotel where I can put up?" asked Robert.
"Eu-ro-pean hotel?" said the urchin, accenting the second syllable.
"What kind of a hotel is that?"
"You take a room, and get your grub where you like."
"Yes, that will suit me."
"I'll show you one and take yer bag along for two shillings."
"All right," said our hero. "Go ahead."
The boy shouldered the carpetbag and started in advance, Robert
following. He found a considerable difference between the crowded
streets of New York and the quiet roads of Millville. His spirits rose,
and he felt that life was just beginning for him. Brave and bold by
temperament, he did not shrink from trying his luck on a broader arena
than was afforded by the little village whence he came. Such confidence
is felt by many who eventually fail, but Robert was one who combined
ability and willingness to work with confidence, and the chances were in
favor of his succeeding.
Unused to the city streets, Robert was a little more cautious about
crossing than the young Arab who carried his bag. So, at one broad
thoroughfare, the latter got safely across, while Robert was still on
the other side waiting for a good opportunity to cross in turn. The
bootblack, seeing that communication was for the present cut off by a
long line of vehicles, was assailed by a sudden temptation. For his
services as porter he would receive but twenty-five cents, while here
was an opportunity to appropriate the entire bag, which must be far more
valuable. He was not naturally a bad boy, but his street education had
given him rather loose ideas on the subject of property. Obeying his
impulse, then, he started rapidly, bag in hand, up a side street.
"Hold on, there! Where are you going?" called out Robert.
He received no answer, but saw the baggage-smasher quickening his pace
and dodging round the corner. He attempted to dash across the street,
but was compelled to turn back, after being nearly run over.
"I wish I could get hold of the young rascal!" he exclaimed indignantly.
"Who do you mane, Johnny?" asked a boy at his side.
"A boy has run off with my carpetbag," said Robert.
"I know him. It's Jim Malone."
"Do you know where I can find him?" asked Robert, eagerly. "If you'll
help me get back my bag, I'll give you a dollar."
"I'll do it then. Come along of me. Here's a chance to cross."
Following his new guide, Robert dashed across the street at some risk,
and found himself safe on the other side.
"Now where do you think he's gone?" demanded Robert.
"It's likely he'll go home."
"Do you know where he lives?"
"Has he got any father and mother?"
"He's got a mother, but the ould woman's drunk most all the time."
"Then she won't care about his stealing?"
"No, she'll think he's smart."
"Then we'll go there. Is it far?"
"Not more than twenty minutes."
The boy was right. Jim steered for home, not being able to open the bag
in the street without suspicion. His intention was to appropriate a part
of the clothing to his own use, and dispose of the rest to a pawnbroker
or second-hand dealer, who, as long as he got a good bargain, would not
be too particular about inquiring into the customer's right to the
property. He did not, however, wholly escape suspicion. He was stopped
by a policeman, who demanded, "Whose bag is that, Johnny?"
"It belongs to a gentleman that wants it carried to the St. Nicholas,"
answered Jim, promptly.
"Where is the gentleman?"
"He's took a car to Wall street on business."
"How came he to trust you with the bag? Wasn't he afraid you'd steal
"Oh, he knows me. I've smashed baggage for him more'n once."
This might be true. At any rate, it was plausible, and the policeman,
having no ground of detention, suffered him to go on.
Congratulating himself on getting off so well, Jim sped on his way, and
arrived in quick time at the miserable room in Mulberry street, which he
His mother lay on a wretched bed in the corner, half stupefied with
drink. She lifted up her head as her son entered.
"What have you there, Jimmy?" she asked.
"It's a bag, mother."
"Whose is it?"
"It's mine now."
"And where did ye get it?"
"A boy gave it to me to carry to a chape hotel, so I brought it home.
This is a chape hotel, isn't it?"
"You're a smart boy, an' I always said it, Jimmy. Let me open it," and
the old woman, with considerable alacrity, rose to her feet and came to
"I'll open it myself, mother, that is, I if I had a kay. Haven't you got
"I have that same. I picked up a bunch of kays in the strate last
She fumbled in her pocket, and drew out half a dozen keys of different
sizes, attached to a steel ring.
"Bully for you, old woman!" said Jim. "Give 'em here."
"Let me open the bag," said Mrs. Malone, persuasively.
"No, you don't," said her dutiful son. "'Tain't none of yours. It's
"The kays is mine," said his mother, "and I'll kape 'em."
"Give 'em here," said Jim, finding a compromise necessary, "and I'll
give you fifty cents out of what I get"
"That's the way to talk, darlint," said his mother, approvingly. "You
wouldn't have the heart to chate your ould mother out of her share?"
"It's better I did," said Jim; "you'll only get drunk on the money."
"Shure a little drink will do me no harm," said Mrs. Malone.
Meanwhile the young Arab had tried key after key until he found one that
fitted--the bag flew open, and Robert's humble stock of clothing lay
exposed to view. There was a woolen suit, four shirts, half a dozen
collars, some stockings and handkerchiefs. Besides these there was the
little Bible which Robert had had given him by his father just before he
went on his last voyage. It was the only book our hero had room for, but
in the adventurous career upon which he had entered, exposed to perils
of the sea and land, he felt that he would need this as his constant
"Them shirts'll fit me," said Jim. "I guess I'll kape 'em, and the close
"Then where'll you git the money for me?" asked his mother,
"I'll sell the handkerchiefs and stockings. I don't nade them," said
Jim, whose ideas of full dress fell considerably short of the ordinary
standard. "I won't nade the collars either."
"You don't nade all the shirts," said his mother.
"I'll kape two," said Jim. "It'll make me look respectable. Maybe I'll
kape two collars, so I can sit up for a gentleman of fashion."
"You'll be too proud to walk with your ould mother," said Mrs. Malone.
"Maybe I will," said Jim, surveying his mother critically. "You aint
much of a beauty, ould woman."
"I was a purty gal, once," said Mrs. Malone, "but hard work and bad luck
has wore on me."
"The whisky's had something to do with it," said Jim. "Hard work didn't
make your face so red."
"Is it my own boy talks to me like that?" said the old woman, wiping her
eyes on her dress.
But her sorrow was quickly succeeded by a different emotion, as the door
opened suddenly, and Robert Rushton entered the room.
A GOOD BEGINNING.
Jim started to his feet at the sight of the equally unwelcome and
unexpected visitor. His mother, ignorant that she saw before her the
owner of the bag, supposed it might be a customer wanting some washing
"Good-morning, sir," said she, "And have yez business with me?"
"No," said Robert, "I have business with your son, if that's he."
"Shure he's my son, and a smart bye he is too."
"He's a little too smart sometimes," returned our hero. "I gave him my
carpetbag to carry this morning, and he ran away with it."
Mrs. Malone's face fell at this unexpected intelligence.
"Shur an' it was a mistake of his," she said. "He's too honest entirely
to stale the value of a pin, let alone a carpetbag."
Meanwhile Jim was rapidly reviewing the situation. He was not naturally
bad, but he had fallen a victim to sudden temptation. He was ashamed,
and determined to make amends by a frank confession.
"My mother is wrong," he said; "I meant to kape it, and I'm sorry.
Here's the bag, wid nothing taken out of it."
"That's right, to own up," said Robert, favorably impressed with his
frank confession. "Give me the bag and it'll be all right. I suppose you
were poor, and that tempted you. I am poor, too, and couldn't afford to
lose it. But I'd rather starve than steal, and I hope you will not be
"I won't!" said Jim, stoutly. "I'll go with you now to a chape hotel,
and won't charge you nothin'."
"I've got a boy downstairs who will take it. Don't forget what you said
"No, I won't," said Jim. "Shure if I'd known what a bully young
gentleman you was, I wouldn't have took it on no account."
So Robert descended the stairs, having by his forbearance probably
effected a moral reformation in Jim, and confirmed in him the good
principles, which, in spite of his mother's bad example, had already
taken root in his heart. If the community, while keeping vigilant watch
over the young outcasts that throng our streets, plying their petty
avocations, would not always condemn, but encourage them sometimes to a
better life, the results would soon appear in the diminution of the
offenses for which they are most frequently arrested.
His new guide shouldered Robert's carpetbag, and conducted him to a
hotel of good standing, managed on the European system. Dismissing the
boy with the promised reward, Robert went up to his room on the fifth
floor, and after attending to his toilet, sallied out into the street
and made his way to the warehouse of the merchant who had been
instrumental in raising the fund for him.
"Mr. Morgan is engaged," said a clerk to whom he spoke.
"I will wait for him, if you please," said Robert.
"Is it any business that I can attend to?" asked the clerk.
"No, I wish to see Mr. Morgan himself."
Mr. Morgan was engaged with two gentlemen, and our hero was obliged to
wait nearly half an hour. At the end of that time, the merchant
consented to see him. He did not at first recognize him, but said,
inquiringly, "Well, my young friend, from whom do you come?"
"I come from no one, sir."
"Have you business with me?"
"You do not remember me, Mr. Morgan. Do you remember when the cars came
so near running off the track a short time since at Millville?"
"Certainly I do," said Mr. Morgan, heartily; "and I now remember you as
the brave boy who saved all our lives."
"You gave me your card and told me I might call on you."
"To be sure, I did, and I am very glad to see you. You must go home and
dine with me to-day."
"Thank you, sir, for your kind invitation."
"This is my address," said the merchant, writing it in pencil, and
handing it to Robert. "We dine at half-past six. You had better be at
the door at six. We will then talk over your plans, for I suppose you
have some, and I will do what I can to promote them. At present I am
busy, and am afraid I must ask you to excuse me."
"Thank you, sir," said Robert, gratefully.
He left the office, not a little elated at his favorable reception. Mr.
Morgan, judging from his place of business, must be a man of great
wealth, and could no doubt be of essential service to him. What was
quite as important, he seemed disposed to help him.
"That's a good beginning," thought Robert. "I wish mother knew how well
I have succeeded so far. I'll just write and let her know that I have
arrived safe. To-morrow perhaps I shall have better news to tell."
He went back to his hotel, and feeling hungry, made a substantial meal.
He found the restaurants moderate in price, and within his means.
Six o'clock found him ringing the bell of a handsome brownstone house on
Fifth avenue. Though not disposed to be shy, he felt a little
embarrassed as the door opened and a servant in livery stood before him.
"Is Mr. Morgan at home?" inquired Robert.
"Yes, sir," said the servant, glancing speculatively at the neat but
coarse garments of our hero.
"He invited me to dine with him," said Robert.
"Won't you walk in, sir?" said the servant, with another glance of wild
surprise at the dress of the dinner guest. "If you'll walk in here,"
opening the door of a sumptuously furnished parlor, "I will announce
you. What name shall I say?"
Robert entered the parlor, and sat down on a sofa. He looked around him
with a little, pardonable curiosity, for he had never before been in an
elegant city mansion.
"I wonder whether I shall ever be rich enough to live like this!" he
The room, though elegant, was dark, and to our hero, who was used to
bright, sunny rooms, it seemed a little gloomy. He mentally decided that
he would prefer a plain country house; not so plain, indeed, as the
little cottage where his mother lived, but as nice, perhaps, as the
superintendent's house, which was the finest in the village, and the
most magnificent he had until this time known. Its glories were wholly
eclipsed by the house he was in, but Robert thought he would prefer it.
While he was looking about him, Mr. Morgan entered, and his warm and
cordial manner made his boy guest feel quite at his ease.
"I must make you acquainted with my wife and children," he said. "They
have heard of you, and are anxious to see you."
Mrs. Morgan gave Robert a reception as warm as her husband had done.
"So this is the young hero of whom I have heard!" she said.
"I am afraid you give me too much credit," said Robert, modestly.
This modest disclaimer produced a still more favorable impression upon
both Mr. and Mrs. Morgan.
I do not propose to speak in detail of the dinner that followed. The
merchant and his wife succeeded in making Robert feel entirely at home,
and he displayed an ease and self-possession wholly free from boldness
that won their good opinion.
When the dinner was over, Mr. Morgan commenced:
"Now, Robert, dinner being over, let us come to business. Tell me your
plans, and I will consider how I can promote them."
In reply, Robert communicated the particulars, already known to the
reader, of his father's letter, his own conviction of his still living,
and his desire to go in search of him.
"I am afraid you will be disappointed," said the merchant, "in the
object of your expedition. It may, however, be pleasant for you to see
something of the world, and luckily it is in my power to help you. I
have a vessel which sails for Calcutta early next week. You shall go as
"Couldn't I go as cabin-boy?" asked Robert. "I am afraid the price of a
ticket will be beyond my means."
"I think not," said the merchant, smiling, "since you will go free. As
you do not propose to follow the sea, it will not be worth while to go
as cabin-boy. Besides, It interfere with your liberty to leave the
vessel whenever you deemed it desirable in order to carry on your
search for your father."
"You are very kind, Mr. Morgan," said Robert, gratefully.
"So I ought to be and mean to be," said the merchant. "You know I am in
We pass over the few and simple preparations which Robert made for his
long voyage. In these he was aided by Mrs. Morgan, who sent on board,
without his knowledge, a trunk containing a complete outfit,
considerably better than the contents of the humble carpetbag he had
brought from home.
He didn't go on board till the morning on which the ship was to sail. He
went down into the cabin, and did not come up until the ship had
actually started. Coming on deck, he saw a figure which seemed familiar
to him. From his dress, and the commands he appeared to be issuing,
Robert judged that it was the mate. He tried to think where he could
have met him, when the mate turned full around, and, alike to his
surprise and dismay, he recognized Ben Haley, whom he had wounded in his
successful attempt to rob his uncle.
A DECLARATION OF WAR.
If Robert was surprised, Ben Haley had even more reason for
astonishment. He had supposed his young enemy, as he chose to consider
him, quietly living at home in the small village of Millville. He was
far from expecting to meet him on shipboard bound to India. There was
one difference, however, between the surprise felt by the two. Robert
was disagreeably surprised, but a flash of satisfaction lit up the face
of the mate, as he realized that the boy who had wounded him was on the
same ship, and consequently, as he supposed, in his power.
"How came you here?" he exclaimed, hastily advancing toward Robert.
Resenting the tone of authority in which these words were spoken, Robert
"I walked on board."
"You'd better not be impudent, young one," said Ben, roughly.
"When you tell me what right you have to question me in that style,"
said Robert, coolly, "I will apologize."
"I am the mate of this vessel, as you will soon find out."
"So I supposed," said Robert.
"And you, I suppose, are the cabin-boy. Change your clothes at once, and
report for duty."
Robert felt sincerely thankful at that moment that he was not the
cabin-boy, for he foresaw that in that case he would be subjected to
brutal treatment from the mate--treatment which his subordinate position
would make him powerless to resent. Now, as a passenger, he felt
independent, and though it was disagreeable to have the mate for an
enemy, he did not feel afraid.
"You've made a mistake, Mr. Haley," said our hero. "I am not the
"What are you, then?"
"I am a passenger."
"You are telling a lie. We don't take passengers," said Ben Haley,
determined not to believe that the boy was out of his power.
"If you will consult the captain, you may learn your mistake," said
Ben Haley couldn't help crediting this statement, since it would have
done Robert no good to misrepresent the facts of the case. He resolved,
however, to ask the captain about it, and inquire how it happened that
he had been received as a passenger, contrary to the usual custom.
"You will hear from me again," he said, in a tone of menace.
Robert turned away indifferently, so far as appearance went, but he
couldn't help feeling a degree of apprehension as he thought of the long
voyage he was to take in company with his enemy, who doubtless would
have it in his power to annoy him, even if he abstained from positive
"He is a bad man, and will injure me if he can," he reflected; "but I
think I can take care of myself. If I can't I will appeal to the
Meanwhile the mate went up to the captain.
"Captain Evans," said he, "is that boy a passenger?"
"Yes, Mr. Haley."
"It is something unusual to take passengers, is it not?"
"Yes; but this lad is a friend of the owner; and Mr. Morgan has given me
directions to treat him with particular consideration."
Ben Haley was puzzled. How did it happen that Mr. Morgan, one of the
merchant princes of New York, had become interested in an obscure
"I don't understand it," he said, perplexed.
"I suppose the boy is a relation of Mr. Morgan."
"Nothing of the kind. He is of poor family, from a small country town."
"Then you know him?"
"I know something of him and his family. He is one of the most impudent
young rascals I ever met."
"Indeed!" returned the captain, surprised. "From what I have seen of
him, I have come to quite a different conclusion. He has been very
gentlemanly and polite to me."
"He can appear so, but you will find out, sooner or later. He has not
the slightest regard for truth, and will tell the most unblushing
falsehoods with the coolest and most matter-of-fact air."
"I shouldn't have supposed it," said Captain Evans, looking over at our
hero, at the other extremity of the deck. "Appearances are deceitful,
"They are in this case."
This terminated the colloquy for the time. The mate had done what he
could to prejudice the captain against the boy he hated. Not, however,
with entire success.
Captain Evans had a mind of his own, and did not choose to adopt any
man's judgment or prejudices blindly. He resolved to watch Robert a
little more closely than he had done, in order to see whether his own
observation confirmed the opinion expressed by the mate. Of the latter
he did not know much, since this was the first voyage on which they had
sailed together; but Captain Evans was obliged to confess that he did
not wholly like his first officer. He appeared to be a capable seaman,
and, doubtless, understood his duties, but there was a bold and reckless
expression which impressed him unfavorably.
Ben Haley, on his part, had learned something, but not much. He had
ascertained that Robert was a _protégé_ of the owner, and was
recommended to the special care of the captain; but what could be his
object in undertaking the present voyage, he did not understand. He was
a little afraid that Robert would divulge the not very creditable part
he had played at Millville; and that he might not be believed in that
case, he had represented him to the captain as an habitual liar. After
some consideration, he decided to change his tactics, and induce our
hero to believe he was his friend, or, at least, not hostile to him. To
this he was impelled by two motives. First, to secure his silence
respecting the robbery; and, next, to so far get into his confidence as
to draw out of him the object of his present expedition. Thus, he would
lull his suspicions to sleep, and might thereafter gratify his malice
the more securely.
He accordingly approached our hero, and tapped him on the shoulder.
Robert drew away slightly. Haley saw the movement, and hated the boy the
more for it.
"Well, my lad," he said, "I find your story is correct."
"Those who know me don't generally doubt my word," said Robert, coldly.
"Well, I don't know you, or, at least, not intimately," said Haley, "and
you must confess that I haven't the best reasons to like you."
"Did you suffer much inconvenience from your wound?" asked Robert.
"Not much. It proved to be slight. You were a bold boy to wing me. I
could have crushed you easily."
"I suppose you could, but you know how I was situated. I couldn't run
away, and desert your uncle."
"I don't know about that. You don't understand that little affair. I
suppose you think I had no right to the gold I took."
"I certainly do think so."
"Then you are mistaken. My uncle got his money from my grandfather. A
part should have gone to my mother, and, consequently, to me, but he
didn't choose to act honestly. My object in calling upon him was to
induce him to do me justice at last. But you know the old man has
become a miser, and makes money his idol. The long and short of it was,
that, as he wouldn't listen to reason, I determined to take the law into
my own hands, and carry off what I thought ought to come to me."
Robert listened to this explanation without putting much faith in it. It
was not at all according to the story given by Mr. Nichols, and he knew,
moreover, that the man before him had passed a wild and dissolute youth.
"I suppose what I did was not strictly legal," continued Ben Haley,
lightly; "but we sailors are not much versed in the quips of the law. To
my thinking, law defeats justice about as often as it aids it."
"I don't know very much about law," said Robert, perceiving that some
reply was expected.
"That's just my case," said Ben, "and the less I have to do with it the
better it will suit me. I suppose my uncle made a great fuss about the
money I carried off."
"Yes," said Robert. "It was quite a blow to him, and he has been nervous
ever since for fear you would come back again."
Ben Haley shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
"He needn't be afraid. I don't want to trouble him, but I was bound he
shouldn't keep from me what was rightly my due. I haven't got all I
ought to have, but I am not a lover of money, and I shall let it go."
"I hope you won't go near him again, for he got a severe shock the last
"When you get back, if you get a chance to see him privately, you may
tell him there is no danger of that."
"I shall be glad to do so," said Robert.
"I thought I would explain the matter to you," continued the mate, in an
off-hand manner, "for I didn't want you to remain under a false
impression. So you are going to see a little of the world?"
"I suppose that is your only object?"
"No. I have another object in view."
The mate waited to learn what this object was, but Robert stopped, and
did not seem inclined to go on.
"Well," said Haley, after a slight pause, "as we are to be together on a
long voyage, we may as well be friends. Here's my hand."
To his surprise, Robert made no motion to take it.
"Mr. Haley," said he, "I don't like to refuse your hand, but when I tell
you that I am the son of Captain Rushton, of the ship, _Norman_, you
will understand why I cannot accept your hand."
Ben Haley started back in dismay. How could Robert have learned
anything of his treachery to his father? Had the dead come back from the
bottom of the sea to expose him? Was Captain Rushton still alive? He did
not venture to ask, but he felt his hatred for Robert growing more
"Boy," he said, in a tone of concentrated passion, "you have done a bold
thing in rejecting my hand. I might have been your friend. Think of me
henceforth as your relentless enemy."
He walked away, his face dark with the evil passions which Robert's
slight had aroused in his breast.
OUT ON THE OCEAN.
We must now go back nearly two years. Five men were floating about in a
boat in the Southern ocean. They looked gaunt and famished. For a week
they had lived on short allowance, and now for two days they had been
entirely without food. There was in their faces that look, well-nigh
hopeless, which their wretched situation naturally produced. For one
day, also, they had been without water, and the torments of thirst were
worse than the cravings of hunger. These men were Captain Rushton and
four sailors of the ship _Norman_, whose burning has already been
One of the sailors, Bunsby, was better educated and more intelligent
than the rest, and the captain spoke to him as a friend and an equal,
for all the distinctions of rank were broken down by the immediate
prospect of a terrible death.
"How is all this going to end, Bunsby?" said the captain, in a low
voice, turning from a vain search for some sail; in sight, and
addressing his subordinate.
"I am afraid there is only one way," answered Bunsby. "There is not much
prospect of our meeting a ship."
"And, if we do, it is doubtful if we can attract their attention."
"I should like the chance to try."
"I never knew before how much worse thirst is than hunger."
"Do you know, captain, if this lasts much longer, I shall be tempted to
swallow some of this sea water."
"It will only make matters worse."
"I know it, but, at least, it will moisten my throat."
The other sailors sat stupid and silent, apparently incapable of motion,
"I wish I had a plug of tobacco," said one, at last.
"If there were any use in wishing, I'd wish myself on shore," said the
"We'll never see land again," said the third, gloomily. "We're bound for
Davy Jones' locker."
"I'd like to see my old mother before I go down," said the first.
"I've got a mother, too," said the third. "If I could only have a drop
of the warm tea such as she used to make! She's sitting down to dinner
now, most likely, little thinking that her Jack is dying of hunger out
There was a pause, and the captain spoke again.
"I wish I knew whether that bottle will ever reach shore. When was it we
"Four days since."
"I've got something here I wish I could get to my wife." He drew from
his pocketbook a small, folded paper.
"What is that, captain?" asked Bunsby.
"It is my wife's fortune."
"How is that, captain?"
"That paper is good for five thousand dollars."
"Five thousand dollars wouldn't do us much good here. It wouldn't buy a
pound of bread, or a pint of water."
"No; but it would--I hope it will--save my wife and son from suffering.
Just before I sailed on this voyage I took five thousand dollars--nearly
all my savings--to a man in our village to keep till I returned, or, if
I did not return, to keep in trust for my wife and child. This is the
paper he gave me in acknowledgment."
"Is he a man you can trust, captain?"
"I think so. It is the superintendent of the factory in our village--a
man rich, or, at any rate, well-to-do. He has a good reputation for
"Your wife knew you had left the money in his hands?"
"No; I meant it as a surprise to her."
"It is a pity you did not leave that paper in her hands."
"What do you mean, Bunsby?" asked the captain, nervously. "You don't
think this man will betray his trust?"
"I can't say, captain, for I don't know the man; but I don't like to
trust any man too far."
Captain Rushton was silent for a moment. There was a look of trouble on
"You make me feel anxious, Bunsby. It is hard enough to feel that I
shall probably never again see my wife and child--on earth, I mean--but
to think that they may possibly suffer want makes it more bitter."
"The man may be honest, captain: Don't trouble yourself too much."
"I see that I made a mistake. I should have left this paper with my
wife. Davis can keep this money, and no one will be the wiser. It is a
"Particularly if the man is pressed for money."
"I don't think that. He is considered a rich man. He ought to be one,
and my money would be only a trifle to him."
"Let us hope it is so, captain," said Bunsby, who felt that further
discussion would do no good, and only embitter the last moments of his
commander. But anxiety did not so readily leave the captain. Added to
the pangs of hunger and the cravings of thirst was the haunting fear
that by his imprudence his wife and child would suffer.
"Do you think it would do any good, Bunsby," he said, after a pause, "to
put this receipt in a bottle, as I did the letter?"
"No, captain, it is too great a risk. There is not more than one chance
in a hundred of its reaching its destination. Besides, suppose you
should be picked up, and go home without the receipt; he might refuse to
"He would do so at the peril of his life, then," said the captain,
fiercely. "Do you think, if I were alive, I would let any man rob me of
the savings of my life?"
"Other men have done so."
"It would not be safe to try it on me, Bunsby."
"It is possible that I may perish, but you may be saved."
"Not much chance of it."
"Yet it is possible. Now, if that happens, I have a favor to ask of
"Name it, captain."
"I want you, if I die first, to take this paper, and guard it carefully;
and, if you live to get back, to take it to Millville, and see that
justice is done to my wife and child."
"I promise that, captain; but I think we shall die together."
Twenty-four hours passed. The little boat still rocked hither and
thither on the ocean billows. The five faces looked more haggard, and
there was a wild, eager look upon them, as they scanned the horizon,
hoping to see a ship. Their lips and throats were dry and parched.
"I can't stand it no longer," said one--it was the sailor I have called
Jack--"I shall drink some of the sea water."
"Don't do it, Jack," said Bunsby. "You'll suffer more than ever."
"I can't," said Jack, desperately; and, scooping up some water in the
hollow of his hand, he drank it eagerly. Again and again he drank with
"How is it?" said the second sailor,
"I feel better," said Jack; "my throat so dry."
"Then I'll take some, too."
The other two sailors, unheeding the remonstrances of Bunsby and the
captain, followed the example of Jack. They felt relief for the moment,
but soon their torments became unendurable. With parched throats,
gasping for breath, they lay back in agony. Suffering themselves,
Captain Rushton and Bunsby regarded with pity the greater sufferings of
their wretched companions.
"This is horrible," said the captain.
"Yes," said Bunsby, sadly. "It can't last much longer now."
His words were truer than he thought. Unable to endure his suffering,
the sailor named Jack suddenly staggered to his feet.
"I can't stand it any longer," he said, wildly; "good-by, boys," and
before his companions well knew what he intended to do, he had leaped
over the side of the boat, and sunk in the ocean waves.
There was a thrilling silence, as the waters closed over his body.
Then the second sailor also rose to his feet.
"I'm going after Jack," he said, and he, too, plunged into the waves.
The captain rose as if to hinder him, but Bunsby placed his hand upon
"It's just as well, captain. We must all come to that, and the sooner,
the more suffering is saved."
"That's so," said the other sailor, tormented like the other two by
thirst, aggravated by his draughts of seawater. "Good-by, Bunsby!
Good-by, captain! I'm going!"
He, too, plunged into the sea, and Bunsby and the captain were left
"You won't desert me, Bunsby?" said the captain.
"No, captain. I haven't swallowed seawater like those poor fellows. I
can stand it better."
"There is no hope of life," said the captain, quietly; "but I don't like
to go unbidden into my Maker's presence."
"Nor I. I'll stand by you, captain"
"This is a fearful thing, Bunsby. If it would only rain."
"That would be some relief."
As if in answer to his wish, the drops began to fall--slowly at first,
then more copiously, till at last their clothing was saturated, and the
boat partly filled with water. Eagerly they squeezed out the welcome
dregs from their clothing, and felt a blessed relief. They filled two
bottles they had remaining with the precious fluid.
"If those poor fellows had only waited," said the captain.
"They are out of suffering now," said Bunsby.
The relief was only temporary, and they felt it to be so. They were
without food, and the two bottles of water would not last them long.
Still, there was a slight return of hope, which survives under the most
The ship _Argonaut_, bound for Calcutta, was speeding along with a fair
wind, when the man at the lookout called:
"Boat in sight!"
The sailor pointed, out a small boat a mile distant, nearly in the
ship's track, rising and falling with the billows.
"Is there any one in it?"
"I see two men lying in the bottom. They are motionless. They may be
The boat was soon overtaken. It was the boat from the ill-fated
_Norman_, Captain Rushton and Bunsby were lying stretched out in the
bottom, both motionless and apparently without life. Bunsby was really
dead. But there was still some life left in the captain, which, under
the care of the surgeon of the ship, was carefully husbanded until he
was out of immediate danger. But his system, from the long privation of
food, had received such a shock, that his mind, sympathizing with it, he
fell into a kind of stupor, mental and physical, and though strength and
vigor came slowly back, Captain Rushton was in mind a child. Oblivion of
the past seemed to have come over him. He did not remember who he was,
or that he had a wife and child.
"Poor man!" said the surgeon; "I greatly fear his mind has completely
"It is a pity some of his friends were not here," said the captain of
the ship that had rescued him. "The sight of a familiar face might
"It is possible, but I am not sure of even that."
"Is there any clew to his identity?"
"I have found none."
It will at once occur to the reader that the receipt would have supplied
the necessary information, since it was dated Millville, and contained
the captain's name. But this was concealed in an inner pocket in Captain
Rushton's vest, and escaped the attention of the surgeon. So, nameless
and unknown, he was carried to Calcutta, which he reached without any
perceptible improvement in his mental condition.
Arrived at Calcutta, the question arose: "What shall we do with him?" It
was a perplexing question, since if carried back to New York, it might
be difficult to identify him there, or send him back to his friends.
Besides, the care of a man in his condition would be a greater
responsibility than most shipmasters would care to undertake. It was at
this crisis that a large-hearted and princely American merchant,
resident in Calcutta, who had learned the particulars of the captain's
condition, came forward, saying: "Leave him here. I will find him a home
in some suitable boarding-house, and defray such expenses as may be
required. God has blessed me with abundant means. It is only right that
I should employ a portion in His service. I hope, under good treatment,
he may recover wholly, and be able to tell me who he is, and where is
his home. When that is ascertained, if his health is sufficiently good,
I will send him home at my own expense."
The offer was thankfully accepted, and the generous merchant was as good
as his word. A home was found for Captain Rushton in the boarding-house
of Mrs. Start, a widow, who, thrown upon her own exertions for support,
had, by the help of the merchant already referred to, opened a
boarding-house, which was now quite remunerative.
"He will require considerable care, Mrs. Start," said Mr. Perkins, the
merchant, "but I am ready and willing to compensate you for all the
trouble to which you are put. Will you take him?"
"Certainly I will," said the warm-hearted widow, "if only because you
ask it. But for you, I should not be earning a comfortable living, with
a little money laid up in the bank, besides."
"Thank you, Mrs. Start," said the merchant. "I know the poor man could
be in no better hands. But you mustn't let any considerations of
gratitude interfere with your charging a fair price for your trouble. I
am able and willing to pay whatever is suitable."
"I don't believe we shall quarrel on that point," said the widow,
smiling. "I will do all I can for your friend. What is his name?"
"That I don't know."
"We shall have to call him something."
"Call him Smith, then. That will answer till we find out his real name,
as we may some day, when his mind comes back, as I hope it may."
From that time, therefore, Captain Rushton was known as Mr. Smith. He
recovered in a considerable degree his bodily health, but mentally he
remained in the same condition. Sometimes he fixed his eyes upon Mrs.
Start, and seemed struggling to remember something of the past; but
after a few moments his face would assume a baffled look, and he would
give up the attempt as fruitless.
One day when Mrs. Start addressed him as Mr. Smith, he asked:
"Why do you call me by that name?"
"Is not that your name?" she asked.
"What, then, is it?"
He put his hand to his brow, and seemed to be thinking. At length he
turned to the widow, and said, abruptly:
"Do you not know my name?"
"Nor do I," he answered, and left the room hastily.
She continued, therefore, to address him as Mr. Smith, and he gradually
became accustomed to it, and answered to it.
Leaving Captain Rushton at Calcutta, with the assurance that, though
separated from home and family, he will receive all the care that his
condition requires, we will return to our hero, shut up on shipboard
with his worst enemy. I say this advisedly, for though Halbert Davis
disliked him, it was only the feeling of a boy, and was free from the
intensity of Ben Haley's hatred.
No doubt, it was imprudent tor him to reject the mate's hand, but Robert
felt that he could not grasp in friendship the hand which had deprived
him of a father. He was bold enough to brave the consequences of this
act, which he foresaw clearly.
Ben Haley, however, was in no hurry to take the vengeance which he was
fully resolved sooner or later to wreak upon our young hero. He was
content to bide his time. Had Robert been less watchful, indeed, he
might have supposed that the mate's feelings toward him had changed.
When they met, as in the narrow limits of the ship they must do every
day, the forms of courtesy passed between them. Robert always saluted
the mate, and Haley responded by a nod, or a cool good-morning, but did
not indulge in any conversation.
Sometimes, however, turning suddenly, Robert would catch a malignant
glance from the mate, but Haley's expression immediately changed, when
thus surprised, and he assumed an air of indifference.
With Captain Evans, on the other hand, Robert was on excellent terms.
The captain liked the bold, manly boy, and talked much with him of the
different countries he had visited, and seemed glad to answer the
questions which our hero asked.
"Robert," said the captain, one day, "how is it that you and Mr. Haley
seem to have nothing to say to each other?"
"I don't think he likes me, Captain Evans," said Robert.
"Is there any reason for it, or is it merely a prejudice?"
"There is a reason for it, but I don't care to mention it. Not that it
is anything I have reason to regret, or to be ashamed of," he added,
hastily. "It is on Mr. Haley's account that I prefer to keep it secret."
"Is there no chance of your being on better terms?" asked the captain,
good-naturedly, desirous of effecting a reconciliation.
Robert shook his head.
"I don't wish to be reconciled, captain," he said. "I will tell you this
much, that Mr. Haley has done me and my family an injury which, perhaps,
can never be repaired. I cannot forget it, and though I am willing to be
civil to him, since we are thrown together, I do not want his
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