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The Sailor's Letter

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It was 31. Jam Laeroix stood upon a whaler's deck lor the lirst time a sailor. He looked about liim. He saw nótliilig but the sea and the sky. The sea was a somber blue, iinohanging, sad. The sky, like ai) immense gray plaque, set domelike on the horizon. No ship on the sea; no bild in the sky. Only desolate expanse. Jcau Lacroix was no sailor. Ilis were the shores broidered with vineyards; 1104 thoseofthe rock-girded ocean. But he had chanced upon and reveled in Robinson Crusoe. Then his dreams were alone of voyages, shipwrecks, far harbors, savages, and women fair-haired and blueeyed. He had set forth. Now that he was far away and alone, the distauce froni his home seems immeasurable. He has never before been more than thirty-five metres from his birth-place; and would almost give his lifeto pass twenty-four hours In the little village. Look and marnier revealed his sad dejection. "lley:" jesungij. ri.,1 u„ o]j gaior. " Lost some 'yer fainily, tliat you look so down-in-the-mouth ? " Jean Lacroix made no answer, but stepued to the side of the vessel. "Is it true," muttered he, ' that letters are sometimes cast into the sea in bottles?" " Yes, 'tis true, rny lad. By God's care tlie black bottle takes our last words to mostofour families." "Eh?" ' Yes, but there be those learned fellows - them that study waves and currents and such - they make me laugh. Their bottle never get there." " Why, then, the messages?" " Wel], there be a chance in a thousand. rhat's enoujrh for a sailor's hope. But then, what'í a bottle 'galaat such odds as t meets in the sea? In a storm the fury of the waves might dash it against an iceberg, or the side of a vessel. Then, a whirlwiiid niight catch it and spin it like a top for years. Sometimes a hungry aljatross comes along; sees somethingshining, pecks at it, and our bottle is broken. Or the whale, which swallows a thousand small lish and niollusks at a gulp, might take the bottle in with the rest without oiowing it. Captains sometimes take a different route from the regular one. Botóles, too, ma}' have quite as much wisdom, rhey float, roll upon the waves, and then - farevvell ! To meet some one, some one must pass." The old sailor ceaseil speaking, abruptiy- " Well, pei'e Chaurelot," said Jean, " I shall write." ■ He went bet ween docks; found pen, ink nul paper, and wrote: "Mv Dear Parents: - For the lirst time in ray life, I shall not be with you on fiew Year's day. To teil you how long the time seems to me avviiy from you all woukl bc more than I could do. Mornnjr, noon, eveniüg, night, I do nothing but think. But, to-day, more than ever refore, am I sorrovvful to be away from ny home and land. This can not give ,ou as much pleasure as I should ; but jefore another year you will forgive me. "'Nextyear,' niurmurs the sea, 'all will be well ! ' "Little sister will clainber on my knee, ind Aunt Catherine, ailjusting her spectacles to see me better, will give me her two sous. To-morrow, you will all meet togfther; but Jean will not be there. You will not even have a letter from me, 'or this miserable country wherein I travel has no post. Nothing but water. " Y'ou may hear from me in three, or 'our, or live, or six months - how many I do not know, but you will know then that I thouglit of you all. I seal this letter in 1 bottle, praying that he who iinds it may send it to you. An old sailor, pere Chauvelot, tells me that possibly it will reach you. I kisss you all and wish you a happy Xew Year! Jean Laohoix." The sailor folded the letter; sealed it; wrote the address carefully; put it in the bottle; sealed the bottle with great precaution; ascended to the upper deck, aud cast it to the mercy of the sea. He watched it iloat on the waves, disap.ieariug and reappearing, again and again, until out of sight. The next day the farm people rose early. The winter was mild. Th3 grass was even green. The sun shone brightly over all. The farm-yard was alive with eliickens, ducks, and turkeys. Inside the lotr lire burned brightly. Iu a moment bieakfast is ready. There is the farmer and his wife, his relatives and friends. Seated in the corner is Auut Catherine, teaching her little niece how to diess her doll. All are there but one. That one is Jean. They may crowd together, but theycannot lili the 'vacant place. The little glrl is absorbed in her doll; the aunt in her niece; the mother in her son. The old father talks much and laugha loud to keep from weeping. They eat and drink. They talk of the old year and the new. But their thoughts are far away. He is far, very far, in a strange place, is the absent oue. At last the old larmer can restrain himself no longer. " To the health of Jean ! " he exclaims. " To the health of Jean ! " they echo. They all wept like children. " Poor child, how he must suffer !" said Ihemother. "O, tliat he could come back iuick," exelaimcd the aunt, " and liever leave us agniti !" The little fcirl luis tlirown down the tloll and listend.?, understamling thal thcy are talking of her utaeiit brotUer. "Does he thiuk of us?" askstiie father km. win? well they will answer hiin 'yes.' "Of that I am sure,'' answers the tnother. The aunt s amazed at am:h a question. He has thought of thera, again and Far, very far, from theship, and faitlier yet from the shore, floata a tiny black speek on the waste of waters. This is the bottle. It liolds the cry out of a longing heart to the loviug hearts in the peasant home, and is the piteouseffortofthe liuman soul to conquer the elements. The waves will decide which shall conquer. After all, what matter it if the bottle is broken ? The holy sentiment it hohls is eternal. Bon voyage to the sailor's letter.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News