Press enter after choosing selection

Only Jones

Only Jones image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The offieera of her majesty's twentyiourth and eighty-fourth infantry were sitting around their mess table, ín Castletown, the capital of the Isle of Man ; one evening more tlian thirty years ago- that is, all of them except one; butthen.that one. was only Jones. Xobody minded Jones, liven his peculiarities had begnn to be an old subject for "chafflng," and, indeed, he had PBM BTR nmnll ilUentil'll U Uielr "chaffing" they had come to Ünd it little pleasure, ind af'ter some weeks of dhicoinfort, Lieutenant Jones had been allowed to choose his own pleasuves without ïnuch interference. These were not extravagant, A '■ favorite book, a long walk in all kinds of weather.and a sail when the weather was favorable. lie would not drink - he said it hurt his health ; he would not s hoot- he said it hurt his feelings ; ie would not gamble- he said ït hurt lis eonscience ; and he did not care to flirt visit the belles of the capital- he said it hurt his affections. Once Capitain DeRenzy lispingly wondered whether it was possible to "hurt his honor," and Jones calmly answered :hat "it was not possible lor Captain DeRenzy to do so." Indeed, Jones constantly violated all these gentlemen's ideas of proper behavior, but for some reason or oiher no one brought him to account for it. It was easier for them to shrug their shoulders and cali him "queer," or say it was "only Jones," or even to quietly assert his cowardice. One evening Colonel Underwood was discussing a hunting party for the next day. Jones walleed into the room and was immediately accosted. "Something new, Lieutenant. I find there are plenty of hares on this island, and we mean to give puss a run tomorrow. I have heard you are a good driver. Will you join me ?" "You must excusé me, Colonel ; such a thing is neither in the way of duty nor my pleasure. I thank you, Colonel, for your courtesy, but I can see no good reason for accepting ït. 1 am sure my norse will not approve oí it ; and I ain sure the have will not like it ; and I am not a good rider : theref ore I should not enjov it." 'You need not be af raid," sald the Colonel rather sneeringly ;"the country is quite open.andthoselowManx wal Is are easily taken." "Excuse me, Colonel. I am afraid. KI should be hurt it would cause my mother and sisters very much anxiety. I am very much afraid of doing this." What was to be done with a man so obtuse regarding eonventionalities, and who bolrtly asserted bis cowardice? The Colonel turned away half contemptuously and Ensign Powell took Jones' place. The morning proved to be a very bad one, with the prospect of a rising storm ; and as the party gathered in the barrack yard, Jones said earnestly to his Colonel : "I am afraid, sir you will meet with ! a storm." "I think so, lieutenant, but we promised to dine at Wynne hall, and I we shall get that far at any rate." So they drove rather gloomily away 111 the rain. Jone3 attended the military duties assigued iiim, and then about uoon walked seavvard. It was hard work by this time to keep his footing on the narrow quay ; but amid the blinding spray and mist he saw ■ quite a crowd of in en going rapidly toward the great shelving scarlet rocks, a mile beyond the town. He stopped an old sailor and asked : "Is anything wrong?" "A little steamer, sir, off the Cape oi Man ; she is drifting this way ; and Indeed 1 iear she will be on the roeks afore to-night." Jones stood still a moment, and then followed the crowd as tast as the storm would let him. When he joincd tlicm, they were gathered on the summitof a huge hill watchingthedoomet craft. She was now within sight, anc it was evident that lier seamen hac i almost lost control of her. She must : ere long be flungby the waves upoi ! the jagged and irightful rocks towart which she was drifting. In the lull of the wind, not only the booming of the minute gun, but also the shouts of tin j imperilled crew could be heard. "What can be done?" said Jones to an old man whose face betrayed the strongeat emotion. "Oïothing, sir, I am afraid. If theVd ïnanaged to round the rocks she would ïave gone to pieces on the sand, and here are plenty of men who would ïave risked life'to save life. But how are we to reach them from this ïeight?" "IIow f ar are we above water?" "The rocks goes down like a wall orty fathoms, sir." "What depth of water at the foot?" "Thirty feet or more." "Good. Have you plenty, of light strong rope V" "Much as you want ; but let me teil vou, sir. you can't live three minutes down there. The first wave wilt dash vou on the rocks, and dash ou to )ieces. Plenty, of us would put you down, sir, but you can't swim if you go down." "Do you know, oíd man, what suri swiniining is ? I have di ved through the surf at Xulmheva." "God bless you, sir. I thought no man could do the smiie." Wbilftthis conversatiou was going on Jones was .Hvesting liimself of all superfluous clothing, and cutting off the sleeves of liis heavy pea-jacket with his pocket knjfe. This done, he passed some light rope through them. The men watchedhim with eager interest, and seeing their inquisitive looks, he said : "The thick sleeves will prevent the rope cutting my body, you see." "Ay, ay, sir; I see now what you are doing." "Now men, I have only one request; Give me plenty of rope as fast as I draw on you. When 1 get on board you know how to mak e a oradle. I supposo ?" "Ay, ay, sir; but how are you go ing to reach the water ?" I am going to plunge down, 1 have dived from the uiain yard of the Ajax bef ore this. It was a high leap." He passed a doublé coil of the rope around his waist, examined it thorough ly to see that there was plenty to stari with, and saying: "Xow, friends stam out of the way, and let me have a cleai start," he raised his bare head one mo ment toward heaven. and taking a short run, leaped, as from the spring board erf i plungebftth. Smch an anxious crowd as followecl that leap. Great numbers, in spite of the dangerous wind, lay tlat on their breaste, and watched him. He struck tlie water at least twenty-flye feet from the cliffs and dlsappeared in the dark, gloomy depths. Whèn he arose to ihe surf ace he saw just bef ore him agigantie wave, but he had time to breatïie, and before it reacbed him he dived below its center. It broke in passionate fnry apon the rocks, bnt Jones rose, far beyond it. A mighty cheer from the men on the shore reached him, and he now begau in good earnest to put his Raciflc experience into practice. Drawimr cimtinuously üd the nifn for more rope- whicli the pail out with deafening cheers- lie met wave . afler wave in the same marnier, tliving ander them like an otter, and getttaf nearer to the wreek with every wave, really advanclng more bolo w the water ■ ;han above it. Suddenly the despairing men on board heard a elear, hopeful voice. "Help at hand Captain ! Tlirow me a buoy." And in another minute or two Jones was on deck, and the cheeis on the little steamer were echoed by the cheers of the crowd on land. There was not a moment to be lost ; she was breaktng up fast ; but it took but a few minutes to fasten a strong cable to the small rope and draw it on board, and then a second cable and the communication was complete. "There is a lady here, sir," said the Captain. "We must rig up a chair for her ; she never can walk that dangerous rope," "A slight little thing; half a child sir." "Bring her here." ïhis was no time for ceremony. Without a word, save a few sentences of direction and encoiiragement, he took her uuder his left arm, and steadying himself by the upper cable, walked on the lower with his burden safely on the shore. The crew rapidly f ollowed, for in such möments of extremity the soul masters the body, and all things become nossible. Theie was plenty of help waiting for the half dead seamen ; and the lady, her father, and the Captain had been put in the carriage of Bradilon and Iriven rapidly to his hospitable hall. iones, amid the confusión, disappeared. Ie had picked up an oilskin coat and cap, and when every one turned to thank their deliverer, he was gone. No one knew him ; the sailors said they beieved him to be one of the military gents, by his rigging, but the individuality of the hero had troubled 110 one until the danger was over. In an hour he steamer was driven on the rocks and went to pieees ; being by this :ime quite dark, every one went home. The next day the hunting party relUined trom Wyniie Hall, the storm having compelled them to stop all night, and at dinner that evening the wreek and the hero of it were the themeof every one's conversation. "Such a plucky fellow," said Knsign Powell. "I wonder who he was. Wynne says he was a stranger, perhaps one of that crowd staying at the abbey." "Perhaps," Bfttd Captain .Mnrks, "t was Jones" Jones made a satirital bow, and said, pleasantly. "Perhaps it was l'owell," at which Powell laughed and said,"ííot if he knew it." In a week the event had been pretty well exhausted, especially as tliere was tu be a great dinner and ball at Braddon, and all the offlcers had invltations. ïliis had a peculiar interest, for the young lady who had been saved f'roin the wreek would be present, and nimors of her richea and beauty had been rife for several days. It is said the little steamer was her father's private yacht, and that he wan a man of rank and affluence. Jones said lie would not goto dinner, as he or Saville must remaln lor evening drill, and that Saville loved a gooi dinner, while he cared very little abou it. Saville could return ín time to lei iiim ride over about ten o'clock and se the dancing. Saville Bather wondere why Jones did not take his place al the evening, and feit half injuml a his default, lint Jones had a curtos ity about the girl hu liad saved. To teil the truth, he was nearer in love with lier tlian lie had ever been with a unían, and he wishedin calm blood to see if she was as beautiful as his fancy had painted her during those awful moments that he had lHd her high above the waves. As he passed, thesquireremembered he had not been to dinner, and ped to say a few courteous words, and introduceil his companion. "Miss Conyers." "Lieutenant Jones." lint no sooner did Miss Conyera ïear Lieutenant Jones' voice tlian she gave a joyful cry, and elapping lier ïands together. said: "I have found hiin! Papa! Papa! have íound him !" Never was there such an interrupion in a ball. The company gathered n excited groups, and papa knew the .ieutenant's voice. and the captain knew it, and poor .Tones. unwilling enough, had to acknowledge the deed and be made a hero of. It was wonderful after this nicht what a change took place in Jones' quiet ways. His books and boat seemed ;o have lost their charms, and as foi lis walks, they were all in one direction. and endéd at Bradi" Hall. In about a month Miss Conyers away, and then Jones began to haimt the postman and to get pretty ltti lettprs whicii aiways seemed to takp a great deal of answering. Before the end of the winter he had an invitation to Conyers' to spend a month and a furlough being granted, he started off in great glee foï Kent. Jones never returned to the Eightyfourth. ïhe month's furlough was indefinitely lengthened- in fact, he sold out and entered upon a diplomatic career under the care of _ Sir Thomas Conyers. 'Must his luck," said Powell. Eighteen months after the wreek, Colonel l'nderwood read aloud a description of the marriage of Thoms Jones, of Hilford Haven, to Mary, only child and heiréss of Sir Thomas Conyers, of Conyers castte, Kent. Ar.á a p'aragraph below stated tliat Hon. Thomas Jones, with his bride, had gone to Viennaon a diplomatic service of great importanee. "Just his luck," said Tnderwood ; "and for my part, when 1 come across one of these fellows again that are af raid ol' hurting their mothers and sisters, and not af raid to way so, I B&Bfl treat liiin as a heir just waitmg for liis opportunity. Ilere is the Hon. Thomas Jones and nis lovely bride. We are going to India, gentlemen, next month, and I am sorry the Eighty fourth has lost Lie utenant Jones, for 1 have no doubt whatever he would have stormed a fort as he boarded a wreek.


Old News
Michigan Argus