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A Young Hero

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" Aye, aye, sir they're smart scamen nough, no doubt, them Dalmatians, and eason good, too, seein' they man half the Austrian navy ; but tbey ain't got the easonin' of an Englishinan, put it bow rou will 1" I am standing on the upper deck of the Austrian Lloyds steamer, looking my last upon pyarmidal Jnff'a, as it rises up in errace after tarace of stern gray masonry gainst the lustrousevening sky, with the oam-tipped breakers at its feet. Beide me, with his elbow on tbo hand rail, nd bis short pipe between bis teeth, ounges the stalwart chief engineer, as ,horough an Englishman as if he had not peut twc-thirds of bis lite abroad, and .elighted to get holdof a listeuer wlio (as ie phrases it) " bas been about a bit." "No; they ain't got an Eaglisbman's SPasonin'," he continúes, pushing his critcism. of the Dalmatiau seamcii ; " and what's more, they ain't got an Euglishman's pluck neither, not when it comes ,o a real serape." "Can no one but an Engliehman have any pluek, "then Y" Stiid I Iaughing. " Wll, I won't just go tur to gay that ; o' course a niaB iis :s a man 'uil httvepluek n him all the world over. l've seed a 'Veucher tickle a shark to sava his messmate; and l've seed a Rooshan stand to iis gun arter evcry man in his battery, rrin' himeolf had been blowed all to mash. But, if yer coine to that, tho jluckiest feller I ever seod warn't a man at all 1" " AVhat was he, then ? a woman ?" " No, nor that neither ; thoogh, mark ye I don't go for to say as huw women uiu't got pluck enough, too - ome on 'era at least. My old 'ooman, now, aved me from a lubbor of a Portigee as was just a g'in' to stick a knife into me, when she ertteked his nut with a handpike. (You can hear her spin the yarn yourself, if you lilte to pay us a visit when we get to Coustantinople.) But tbis un 'm a talkin' on was a little lad not mueh jigger 'n Torn Thumb, only with a sperrit of his own as 'ad ha' blowed up a man o'war a'most. Would ye like to hear about it 'f I cagerly nssonted, and the narrator ünocking the ashes out of bis pipo, folda iis brawny arms npon tho top of tho rail, and commences as tullows: - " Bout tbvc.e years -.go, afore I got tbis berth as lm in now, I was socond ent;ineer aboard a Liverpool steamoï bound for New York, Thoie'd been a lot of extra crgo ent down just at the last min ute, and wu'd had no end of a job stowin' it away, and tbat ran us late o' startin' ; so that, altogether, as you may think, the eap'n warn't altogether in the sweetest temper in the world, nor the mate neither ; as for the chief engineer, he was an easy goin' sort o' chap, as nothin' on carth conld put out. But on the moniin' of the third day out from Liverpool, ho cuín down to me in a precious hurry lookin' as if somethin' had put him out pretty considerably. "Toni," says he, " what d'yo think? Biest if we ain't found a stowaway." (That's the name, you know, sir, as we srives to chaps as hides themselves aboard outward-bound vessels, and gots carned out unbeknown to everybcdy.) " The diokens you havo !" says I, "wliere is he and whore did yer find him V" " Well, wo found him stowed araong the c&sks for'ard, and ten to one wo'd novcr ha' twigged him at all, if tho skipper's dog hadn't snifFed him out and begun barkin'. Such a little mito he is too. I could almost put him in tohacey pouch, poor Httlo boggar! but ho looks to be a good pluoked un for all that." I didu't wait to hear no moro, but up on doek Hko ;t sky rocket ; and there I did see a sight and no mistake. Every man-Jack o' tho orow, and what few passengen wo had aboard, was all in a ring on the fo'castle, and in the middle stood tho fust mate looking as black as thundor. llight in front of him, lookin' a reg'lar niite among all them big feller was a littlo bit o' a lad not ten yoars old ragged a8 a scarecrow, but with bright curly hair, and a bonnie littlo face o' nis own, if it hadn't been so woful thin and pale. But, bless yer soul ' to see the way that little chap held his head up, and looked about him, you'd ha' thought tho whülo ship belonged to him. Tho mato was a great, hulkin' black-bearded feller, with a look that 'ud ha' frightoned a horso, and a voice fit to make one jump through akey-hole; but the young un warn't a bit afeared - he stood straight up and looked him full in the face with them bright, olear eyes o' his'n, for all the world as if ho was Prinoo Halfred himself. Folk did say artprwards (loweriug his voioe to a whisper) as how he comed o' better blood nor what he ought ; aud, for my part, I'm rather o' that way o' thinkin' myself; for I never y et soed a common street-Harab (as thoy calis Vin now) curry it off like bim. You might ba' boord a pin drop, as the mate spoke. " Well, you young wbelp," says he in bis grimmest voice, " what brougbt you her! ?" " Tt -was my itep-father ns dono it," snys the boy in a weak littlo voico, but as eteady as could be. "Father's dead and motlier's marriod again, and my now father says as how ha won't have no brats about, uatin' up his wtvges ; and he stowod me away when nobody warn't lookin', and guv me some gnib to keep me goin' fot a dtiy or two till I got to sou. He says I'm to go to Aunt June at Halifax ; uud here's hor address." And with that, he slips his hand into the breast of his shirt, and out with a sorap o' paper, awi'ul dirty aud crumpled up, but with the address on it right enough. We all believed overy word on't, even without the paper ; for his look, and his voice, and the way ho spoke, was enough to show that thero warn't a ha' porth o' lyin' in his whole skin. But tho mate didn't seem to swaller the yarn at all ; he only shrugged Li shoulders with a kind o' grin as much as to say, " I'm too oíd a bird to be caught with that kind o' chaff ;" and thou ho says to him, " Look here, my lad, that's all very fine, but it won't do horo - some of these men o' mine are in the secret, and I mean to have it out of' 'em. Now, you just point out the man as stowed you away and led you, this very minute ; if you don't it'll be the worso for you." Tho boy looked up in his bright, fearloss way (it did my heart good to look at him, the brave little chap,) and said, quite 'quietly, " I've told you the truth ; I aiii't got no more to say. The mate saysuothin', butlooks at him a minute as if he'd see olear through him ; and thon he faced round to the men lookin' blacker than over. ' Reeve a rope to the yard !" he sings out, loud enough to raise the dead ; " smart now. The men all look at each other, as much as to say, " what on earth's a comin' now ?' But nboard a ship o' course, when you'ro told to do a thing, you've got to do it ; 60 the rope was rove in a jiffy. " Now, my lad," says the mate in a hard square voioe, that made overy word seem like fittin' a stone in a wall, " yon see that 'ere rope ? Well, I'llgive you ten minutes to confess" (he took out his watoh and held it in his hand), " and it' you don't teil tbc truth afore the tiuie's up, 111 hang you lïlto a dog." The crew all stared at one another as f they couldn't bclieve thcir ears (I didn't rmlieve mine, I can teil ye), and then a howl went auiong 'em, like a wild beast awakin' out of a nap. " Silenctí there I" shouta the mata in a voice like th roar of a nor'easter. " Stand by to run f jr'ard !" and with his own hands he put the noose around the boy's tteok. The little feller never flinchod a bit; but there wero some among the sailors (big strong ehap'.s as could ha' felled an ox) as shook like leaves in the wind. As for me, I bethought myself o' my little ourly hairnd lad at home, and how it 'ud bü if any one was to go for to hang him ; and at the very thought on't I tiugled all over, and my fingers clinchcd theraselves as if they was a grippin' somebody's throat. I clutched hold o' a bandspike, and held it behind my back, all ready. " Toni, whiipered the chief-engineer to me, " d'ye thmk he really moans to do it r" " I don't know," says I through my teeth, " b'ut il ho does, e shall go tirst, it' I swing ftr it!" l've beeu in many an ugly scrapein my time ; but I never telt 'art' as bad as I did theu. Every minute saemed as long as a doran; and the tiuk 'o tho mate's watch ï-eg'iar priokod my ears liko a pin. The ïnuii were very quiet, but thero was a procioua ugly look on soine 'o their faces, und I noticad throe or tour on 'em kep' edgiu' forard to where the mate was standiu", iu a way tbat maant niischief. As tor me, I'd made up my mind tliat it' he did go for to hangthè puorlittlo ohap, I'd kili him on tho spot and tako my chances. "Eight minutes!" saya the mate, his great deep voice breaking in upon tLi? sileneo liko the toll 'o a funeral bell. " If you've got anytbing to confeas, my lad, you'd best out witb it, for jour time's nearly up. ' "I've tüld you tho truth," answered tho boy, very pale, but as firm as over " May I say my prayers, please r"' The mate nudded ; and down goes the poor little oliap on his kuees (with that mferial rope around his neuk all the time), and put up his poor little hands to pray. 1 eouldn't niake out what he saic (fiiot my head was in suoh a whivl that I'd hardly ha' knowed uiy own name) but I'il be bound God heard every -word Then ho ups on bis teet agtun, and puts his hands behind him, and eays to the mate, quite quietly, " I'm ready ! ' And then, sir, the mate's hard grim faoe broke up all at once, liko I've seed the id) in the Baltic He snatohed up the bov in his arras, and kiased him, and bust out a cryin' liko a child ; and I think there warn't one of us as didn't do the same. I know I did for oue. "God bless you, my boj!" saya he, smoothin' the cliild's hair with his great hard hand. " You're a true Englishman every inch of you ; you wouldn't teil a lie to save your life ! Well, if so be as yer fdthcr cast ye off, 111 bc yer father from this day fortb ; and if I ever forget you, thuu tnay God forget me!" And he kep' hia word too. When w got to Halifax he found out the little un aunt, and giv' her a lump o' money t make him comfortable ; and now hc goe to see tho youngster every voyage, a reg'lar as can be ; and to see the pair o 'em together - tho little ohap bo fond o him, and not bearin' him a bit o' grudg - it's 'bout as pretty a sight as ever . seed. And now, sir, axin' yer pardinj it's time for me to be going below ; bo 111 just wisli yer good night.


Old News
Michigan Argus