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Harry Winsome

Harry Winsome image
Parent Issue
Day
12
Month
May
Year
1876
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Harry Winsome wasn't a model midhipman like those you read of in novéis. Phere was nothing very wonderful about nim at all, in fait. On shore, when he lappened to go to a party or ball, he did not try to dance all tlie erening with the allest and fairest for partners; he did not bully the blue-jackets and cali them duffers when in charge of a boat; and on oard he never shirked his Work or ' fudged " the sum the naval instructor ;ave him to work, and he never went on he sick-list with the tooth-aehe, and he didn't spend one-half of hip time at the masthead because he chose to spend the other half in playing tricks on his superior offlcers. But if Harry had nothing very brilliant about his character - and riiliancy, mind you, is a very dangerous hing for a naval midshipman to be posessed of - he had something that was ar better : he had that plodding spirit so characteristic of the Saxon race, that indomitable perseverence which is inseparable f rom the true Englishman's naure; and so, f rom the very moment larry became a naval cadet and floated away from shore, perehed upon his seachest, to join his ship, although not enamored of his new profession, Harry ' meant to go on with it. " No one likes ;he sea at first - there is so much to endure, so much to conquer; but these same hardships, when overeóme, naturally make us love old ocean all the more. When Harry and his sea-ehest were bundled - rather unceremoniously, it must be allowed - on board the gunboat ïadger the first thought that occurred o him was that he had never seen such confusión in his life; for, although the vessel was under sailing orders, and in ess than twelve hours would be south of he Needies, hardly any of the stores had as yet been struck down, and the deck was a perfect litter. Harry wouldn't ïave known what to do if it hadn't been or his friend and servant the coxswain. Chat worthy sailor touched him on the shoulder and told him to go and report limself to the tall officer who was walkng the quarter-deck. "That," added the coxswain, " is the commander - not a stricter officer in the service; t'other, the shortish gray-headed jentleman's the doctor, the kindest and Dest hearted that ever breathed. Sheer off, master, they be looking this way." "And so, youngster," said the commander, who, to Harry's mind, couldn't ïave been very much shorter than the unnel of his own ship, " y ou've thought roper to join at last, have you ? A fine ot of French leave you've taken." Poor Harry feit as if he had a pincushion in hip throat, which he could neither get down nor up, and it was only with difficulty he restrained the tears. Phe commander wasn't slow to note the ad's confusión. "So - ho !" he eontinued, "going to cry, hey ? Brought up at n ladies' semmary, hey? Pretty sailor you'll make." "Excuse me, sir, " said the surgeon, who ïad entered the navy rather late in life, and, although twenty years and over had elapsed since he left old Ireland, still retaiued the slightest spice in the world of the brogue - " Excuse me, but I cannot be mistaken, this is a grandson of my old and esteemed friend, Gen. StrathDurn. There's a drop of the raal blood n him, sir. Trust me, he'll make a sailor right enough." Dr. fitzgerald's face was very homely and deeply pitted with the small-pox, and as brown as an old bo's'ain's, but Harry at that moment thought he had never seen such a pleasant man in his life. "I'm sorry I spdfce," said the commander, by no means angrily, as he pushed Harry over to the surgeon. " Take him and make a sailor or loblolly boy of him, just as you please." The surgeon laughed. " Come along, me boy," he said, "and I'll show you your mess-mates, and a rough lot you'll find them. Can you foight?" " I think I can, " said Harry modestly ; "but I never tried." "Ha! ha! laughed the oíd doctor ; " very good indeed. Capital !" A long, low, dark room on one side of the steerage, liglited only by two small ports - this was the gun-room. A table occupied nearly its entire space, leaving merely room, and no more, for the cushioned lockers, which served for seata. The surgeon knocked and entered, dipping his head as he did so, to allow a purser's shoe to whistle harmlessly over it. "Oh! come away, doctor," said a voice ; " I thought it was that beggarly steward ; he has allowed Johnson to drink my rum again to-day." " Well," said the doctor, " you driak his to-morrow." "Never get a chance, sir, or I would every day. Has that younggriffin come to join?" The speaker was a tall, lanky, rawboned youth, who sat in a comer with both legs on the table, a poaition he was justifled by the rules of the mess in assuming, because he had been round both Capes. "Oh! dear, dear good oíd doctor!" cried a young fair-haired middy, jumping up and thro-wine his axms caressingly round the surgeon's neck. " I'm so glad you've come." "What's in the wind now, young cnb t" asked the doctor. "Oh! logarithms, daddy, logarithms and 'gebra ; you'H do an equation for me, won't you?" " Not tliis watch, my boy," said the surge on ; "ask your new messmate here." " Can you do log's and 'geb?" This appealingly to Harry. 'Til try," said Harry ; and down sat the two together ; away went the snrgeon, and in less than fie miilute.B the youngsterg were as thick as thieVes. Harry promised to do all his messmate's suma for him. "For you know," that youth explained, "I'man awfully lazy beggar ; Lawson's my name - Lazy Lawson, the instructor Calis me ; and oan't he hit hal-d with the ruler ! my word ! " Lawson aiso gave him a history of all his messmates, from the sub-lieutenant - who was quiet and allowed Hieks, the lanky youth and tyrant of the mess, to do as he liked - down to the young and inoffensive purser's clerk. Thus far, reader, perhapB SOU have thought my little hero greeri. He wasn't, however. Ho was one of your quiet, considering Ênglish böyB, who always think before they Bpeak, who take things in at one glance, and who, no matter how soft they look, are not to be iinposed apon. ... „J The ward-roOm offloers soon foúnd out Harry's good qualitiës, and grew very fond of him.especially the surgeon, who invited Harry to make use of his cabin every day to read or study in. Like most of his class, tne doctor was a good sailor ; he could, so to speak, box the compass, spliee a rope, steer the ship, or navigatö her ; and he often gave Harry what he termed a " hitch " out of a difftculty. Harry's iife in the gun-room was rather a rough one, but lie soon settled down to it ; not that he f ollowed in the footsteps of the oldsters, mtnd yon. He treated the stewai'd politely, büt he didn't pet him one moment and shy a boot at his head the next, neither did he bully his own servant--and honest JJan Williams would have done anything for him. But Harry had to submit to be bullied a good deal himself . Hioks took his rum regularly ; Harry didn't mind. Hicks " borrowed " his pens, ink, and paper ; Harry had plenty. The mildest name that ever Hicks called him was ' muff ;" but even that didn't hurt Harry. Harry didn't search his Bible to flnd the proverbial five-pound note, but he searched it to flnd somethitig far better, muff as he was ; and night and morning he knelt by the side of his sea-chest,and he never feit a bit worse for it. Harry had been at sea for three years, and every day of those three years Hicks had had his rum ; but one day poor Williams was so ill that he could hardly stand erect, and Harry did not hesitate to give him the rum that day. Crash ! That was a blow, and Hicks was the giver, and poor Harry lay stunned and bleeding upon the deck. But that same evening, on the orlopdeck, Harry took of his jacket, which Lazy Lawson held, and told Hicks to stand up like a man. I won't describe the fight. Sufflce it to say that next day Hicks had to go on the sick list, and he couldn't appear on duty for a whole week. But nobody pitied Hicks. And Harry's Ufe in the gun-room was more pleasant after that. OHAPTER THE SEOOND - AT LAST. When three years had passed away - and, oh, how quickly years do fly in the navy ! Harry feit he liked the service. When flve years had come and gone he positively loved it, and wouldn't have changed" places with a lord on shore. All this time Harry had never once been home, for when one commission was done he had volunteered for a second in the s.ame station ; and not only he, but his dearest friend, Lazy Lawson, and his faithful servant, Dan Williams, had all effected an exchange into the corvette Vengeance, just newly out from England. Harry was soon senior midshipman on that ship, and ere very long junior sub-liutenant. You would hardly have known Harry Winsome now. He was no longer the bashful boy, who rode on board his flrst ship ontop of his sea-chest, but a tali and handsome young man - stül a little quietlooking, and with a cast of care on his countenance, but with fair irrepressible hair that curled over his well-bronzed brow, and an eye that never feared to look you in the face. " Heigho ! " said Harry to his friend and chum one Sunday morning ; " I wonder if there will ever be any fighting to give a fellow a chance to win his epaulets." " Epaulets, indeed !" replied Lawson, who was still a middy ; " I only wish I could win my scales and a stripe, let alone epaulets. But I suppose I shall never be anything but Lazy Lawson. I envy you Harry. How the dickens do you manage it ? " " I just keep pegging away," said Harry. " Mind, I'm not jealous, Harry, but somehow I envy you." "Why don't you keep pegging away as I do ? " asked Harry simply. " Oh, hang work and grinding !"' said Lawson; "Ican't do it, and there's an end. Besides, there's luck, you inow. The skipper never feil into the hands of the natives and gave me a chance of saving his Ufe. And I happened to be on leave when the ship was on flre. Williams told me, though, it was quite a sight to see you, all black and grimy, scuttling the decks with the carpenter's ax. But- by gum, Harry! I'll never forget the day you jumped overboard, in half a e-ale of wind, after poor Joe mett. It was so funny; beoause, when I saw you come up and the broken water all round you frothy and bloody, I made sure the shark had you instead of Joe; and you only brought upone-half of poor Joe af ter all- that was funny. Oh! you're a luoky, lucky beggar, Harry !" "And so would you be, Lawson, if you would only just"make up your mind to keep peg " "Strange sail on the lee bow, sirl"- this in stentorian toneB from the man at the mast-head. It was a sight to see the bright gleam that now shone from Harry's eye ánd illuminated Iris whole face; it was a sight to see the alacrity with which, glass in hand, he shinned up the rigging; and it was a sight to see poor little Lazy Lawson stick his hands deep into his pegtop trowsers-pockets and gaze upward af ter him. "Lucky- lucky beggar!" said Lawson. Harry came down almost as quickly as he had gone up, went below, and entered the commander's cabin. Shortly afterward, the order was passed to let the men have dinner half an hour sooner; and even a novice could have told, from observing the unusuaJly beaming faces of both men and officers, that something more than usual was in the wind. The ship was kept away a few points in the direction of the strange vessel, which in less than an hour could be seen from the deck - a large three-masted ship, under every stitcli of canvas she could carry, and keeping well in toward the land. Tho Vengeance rose feil on the long sniooth rollers of the Indian Ocean. Which of us has not seen or read of the beauty of this romantic sea ; of its bright pellucid waters, beneath whose ctepths are spread gardens of marine owers, of colors as bright as the hues of the rainbow ; of the little coralline isles that dot its surface, green-friuged with waving palm-trees ; of its blue skies, flecked with fleecy cloudlete ; of the strange sails that, birdlike, skim over its waters ; and of the peace that seems to bang forever around it? For ever? Nay, not forever - for at night, when all is quiet, you can hear the cry of the tortured slave in the dark woods that line its hores ; down among the flowers lürks the dfeaded shark, the scorpion iweÜs on the coral islandS) those strange i&üs are ofteü pirates, and at times the ctycloile öaïeers across its waters, and Inany a gallant ship and many a brave aailor lie beneath its waves. It was the rainy season. Instead of the bright blue sky usual in these latitudes, the sky was overcast and of leaden liue, the forked lightning played incessantly on the surface of the water, while any wind there was camein sudden giists and wild, and had hardly come till it was gone again. The Vengeance was in chase, and every eye on board was strained watching the great three-master, still a long way ahead of them, for, although the Vengeance gained upon her in the lull, with every squall the strange shipseemed positively to fly over the waters. When, áfteí a short twilight, night feil, dark and loWering, the Vengeance was still a long way astern, and the chase seemed all but lost. Down in the captain's cabin a council of war was held, at which Harry was the youngest offlcer. Jooma, the dark-skirmed Arab interpreter, was talking as he entered. " I teil you what, sar," he was saying, excitedly, ' ' you wrong ! Dat ship not go furder south; she cross the bar tonight, land slaves to barracoon, and then clear ship fcr the inspeötion of British officers! And Jooma bowed low, in moOk ceremonv. to his audience. "Well, after all, captain," said the navigating'lieutenant, "I think old Jooma is right. He talks like a book, and we are right off the Rangoona bar even now." " Then, by heavens I" cried the captain, " where she goes my boats can folio w." " Hurrah to that, sar !" said Jooma. "But, mind," continued the captain, " old friend as you are, Jooma, I'll hang you if you've deceived us !" "Jooma live a long time y et, sar," said the Arab. It was midnight when the Vengeance eeased to steam, and cast anchor outside the Rangoona river in five fathoms of water. Midnight, and intenaely dark. Five boats were called away, yet it seemed like madness to attempt to cross that dreaded bar night, where the rollers ran motmtains high, and broke in foam on every side. " Whatever a man dares he can do," was the motto of Capt. Cameron, of H. M. S. Vengeance. Jooma's boat went flrst, the rest following in Indian file, and all that even Jooma had to guide him was the constant tum-tumming in the Indian village and tne occasional quavering shriek of an Arab sentry. The boats are among the breakers. Jooma's light, like a guiding star, is on ahead, now- now seen, now bidden, with the rise and fall of the boat. Heavens! how those mighty waves tumble and roar, and, like giant monsters of the deep, toss their foaming manes all around them ! Only in the wake of Jooma's boat there is no broken water. Well he knows the passage. The last boat to pass is Harry's. He is half-way through, when swiftly up behind comes a great curling wave. Harry sees the danger. " Lie on your oars, men '. " he shouts; "steady!" The last word is drowned in the roar of breaking water. The boat is caught like a cork and hurle d swifter thtin arrow from Indian's bow full flfty yards shoreward- shoreward and into smooth water - safe, but ñlled to the very gunwale with water. As silent as ghosts glided the boats up the river. Suddenly a voice which seemed to come from the clouds : "Boatahoy ! Stand off or 111 put a shot iu y ou ! " "Dar she is, sar, Captain!" cried Jooma exultingly. "Now, my lads, cried Captain Canieron, "you heard the threat 1 That's our prize. We've only got to take her. Mr. Lawson, sheer off a few yards with your boat, and keep the blue lights burning." A broad glare of ghastly light was the almost instant reply. "Tumble up, men!" shouted the saptain. "Hurrah!" What spirit there is in an English eheer, even from soldier-throats. But, ih ! you should hear it as it comes from the lungs of our brave blue-jackets, whe.n eager for the fray, when every pulse is bounding, and the foe is there before hem. It surely was not men they fought with on the deck of that slave-ship. Half naked they were, dusky-sfciuned, and slippery, with long hair and wild eyes - men who fougbfciBth brandishcd spear and broads wotíK They were the northern flghting Arabs, half pirates, half slavers. How üercely they fought, how bitterly they died, and how terrible was the flght that raged under the blue uncertain light ! For f ully half an hour, with clash and shout and cry and moan, the battle continued, then all was still save for the groans of the wounded. Harry had fought as only young Englishmen can and always do tight, and when it was all over he dropped apparently lifeïess on the deck. It was his flrst flght, remember - he had fainted with excitement and fatigue. It seemed a very long night to be alone with the dead and wounded, for both sides had suffered severely. At last, however, morning broke ; the sun leapt up out of the sea, red and fiery, shimmering over the waters in a curtain of crinisoH. There was still the barracoon on shore to capture, and the slaves, who had all been landed, to libérate, and Capt. Cameron lost no time in setting about it. The wounded and dead were sent over the bar to the ship, and then a landing was effected on the edge of a mangrove forest, and honest Jooma found a path which conducted them straight to the Indian village. Sailors, perhaps, do not look very soldier-like on shore, but nov ertheless they can do their work, as witness the Crimea. Here, however, an unexpected diflicultyarose. The village was surrounded by a high wooden palisade, and as they were wondering how to get over a pattering flre of musketry was opened on them and several men dropped. "Letuspitch each other over! here goes, I'in first?" cried Harry Winsome. "Harrah!" and in flve minutes, reader, tliere wasn't one man-Jack at the wrong side of the palisade except poor Dan Williams, who happened to be last, and had nobody to pitch him over, and what do you think he did ? Why, lay down and cried f or vexation. The Somalí Indians and Arabs made a stout resistance, and for Lours the fíght was hand to hand, from one burning house to another. Back again on board the Vengeance. An awning is spi-ead amidships, and under it hangs many a poor fellow in his hammock, and among them Harry, who was grievously wounded in the late fray. Steaming onward at full speed thfougk the Indian ocoan, Bombay was reached at last. When Harry was a ole to get about ft bit in a palanquín and was feeling as if he had got a new lease of life, one day Oapt. Cameron came on shore with a packet of letters. All Harry's letters wei-e paper btit one - it was his commission as lieutenant. Harry Winsome had won his epaulets. When Harry read it his eyes sparkled, and the oíd pincushion carne back again, atid for a moment he thought he must make a fooi of himself, but he didn't, Harry is home again, and holding his mother in his iirms. Home ! Oh, reader ! it is worth while going abroad for a few years, if only to know the meaning of that oce word, Home. "I teil you," said Gen. Strathburn (Harry's uncle), "that, peace or war, there is no better caroer in the world for a boy of spirit than the brave old Englisn navy," The Generalis right. - Cassell's Magazine.

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Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus