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Where The Mermaids Are Gone

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'Why don't we see no merniaids now ? I ktiows why.' Theoracle was Fern Jipson, able seaman on board the good ship Osiris, bound from the port oí Londou to Calcutta ; his most attentive auditor was a small midshipmite belonging to the same gallant eraf t, myself ; andtbejust quoted prol'ession of familiarity with a certain pbase of the supernatural, was delivered on the foie part of the spardeck one hot aftemoon as we lay becalmed on the verge of the tropics. Fern was a eharacter. Accustomed to a sea-fariag life from hi3 very infancy, at the age of flva-and-thirty lie had been wrecked on one of the South Sea Islands, where he and six of his companions who had escaped drowning were taken prisoners by the natives. Though he lost one eye by an arrow wound, out of the seven his lite alone liad been spared - tor what reason was not quite clear, as Fern was in the habit of attributing his good fortune to the accidental circumstance of his superexcellence or special dexterity la whatever might be the topic of conversation or dispute at the moment, irotn theology to thimble-rigging. 'Don't teil me nothing aboutthat !' hewould say linally and ernphatically. 'if 1 hadn't knowed somethin' about that, 1 sbould ha' been eat nior'n twenty years ago.' Be that as it may, he had remained on the island uiteen years, marrying a native woman and living in all respects as the savages did ; so, that, when an English ship came there af ter the lapse of time, he discovered that he had alruost forgotten his own language, and caught himself marveling at the white skins and strange attire of the visitors as his dusky adopted brethern did. But not for long. The accents of his native tongue wroughi their spell on him, and he was seized with an irresistible desire to see the old country again, and the wit' e whom he suddenly remembered he had left there. He gotaway, not without some difflculty ; and af ter kuocking about the world for several years more, found himself growing old and itated tor sailor work. JSeduced to distress and unable to get a job, by great good luck he strolled into a shipping' ofñce as a forlom hope when the crew of the Osiris were signing articles , and our captain, with whom Fern Jipson had sailed when he was fourth offlcer many years before recognizing him,had taken him in and kept hirn in the ship more out of charity, and as a penaioner of his own for the sake of auld lang syne, than for any real service the old fellow could render. It was, as I have said, a hot afternoon. The watch below were assemblee! on the forecaatle head, and presented a fringe of canvascased legs as they hung over the, lazily watching the efforts of the sailmaker to harpoofi the porpoises whieh were tumbling their aoinersaults ander ourbows; while the sailora of the watch on deck were all aloft stowing the topsails and top-gallautsails, all but Fern, who was squatted on the deck, scraping the oaken bits surrounding the i'oremast, preparatory to varnishing them. And Fern was blubbering like t child. Though 1 was midshipman of that watch, my dutias were so f ar f rom onerous that the choice lay before me oí seeing the san maker miss his porpoises, or of talking to Jipson as the better means oí whiling away the time till four o'clock. The oíd man's tales of the marveloua had a weird fascination for me, so I chose the latter course. perehing myself ou the hamuiock bin over against him, and wondering wha he was crying for. Strange are the in consistenties of human nature! knew that he was waiting for me t question him, and I knew equally we that, if I had done so, he would hav returned a surly answer or none at al So, after a few minutes' silenoe, I cai tiously opened fire with a query which was always pertinent. Have a bit of 'baccy, Fern?' I was making desperate efforts myself to acquire the fine arts oí smoking aud che wing, and invariably carried a plug of "hard" in my pocket toshow that I was a real sailor. Without a word he put dowji his scraper and stretched out a gnarled and venous hand in which the Uttoed cinabar and charcoal sliowed ditnly through the brown sun-glazed skin; took the cake of tobáceo, cut off a quid which might have weighed about a querter of an ounce, adjusted it in his cheek with great deliberation before handing back the remainder, heaved a deep sigh, and resuined the scraper. But, seeing that 1 was not to be ightly beguiled into committing myelf, he paused again presen tly, and bean to pour out his grievance. "All the other ehaps aloft; and me ot here to scrape bright-work like a oy! They think I'm got too oíd to go loft. It's 'bout titue 1 were slung over he side. I ain't no use on board ship ow. 1 ain't a sailor now. I'm a deck and now. That's what 1 am!' It may be observed, in passing, that fern's diction throughout was garnishd with a variety of foreible expresons, usually of a hyperbolic nature, in he proportion of iibout two words ere reported to one of vernacular supjressed. 'Anyhow, you've nianaged to smarten p that flfe-rail.' This froni me, as a )alm. Well, I ought to know summat bout varninshin'. If I hadn't known ummat about it, I should ha' been eat fore now." Not wishing to traverse the wellworn groove, I ent in rather hastily: 'Did you ever see a mermaid, Fern, when you were on the island ?' 'Mermaid? Hundredsof 'em. They sed to come up in shoals tnere inside the reef on line nights, a-combin' of íeir 'air an' a-singin' an' dancin' round ke; mermaids an' mermen an' little mer-boys an' girls too, Wery perlite n' affable they was, too, if you apoke m, and willin' enough to come ashore, nly the women was jealous of 'em an' ruv 'em away with bows an' arrers. ut I've seen 'em other places to. The omoro Isles, Fern ?' Neither my georaphical nor grammatica! attaininents were conspicuous at that period. 'You'll see 'em by an' by. We shall eave 'em on the starboard side going irough the Mozambique Ohannel. Jut you won't see no mermaids there or nowhere else, now.' And here I sked the question indicated by Fern's eply, which is recorded in the title of ;his paper. 'ïhere's other place3 where they usd to be seen,' he went on, without mmediately verifying bis claim to a nowledge of the cause of their disapearance; places whera folks don't link of. 'It's a great mistake to say íere's no mermaids in cold latitudes. ; mind sailing f rom Montreal once for lasgow in a 500 ton brig, the Blanche iacüregor. A 500 ton brig she were, n' the skipper were a north countryman. Off Antioosti we gets becalnied ne Satmday night an' drops anchor, r there's a strong current from the t. Lawrence there, an' we would ha' rifted onto the island if we hadn't. "extday was Sunday, and still there vasn't a breath of wind. When it ome arternoon the ship was all quiet ike; the skipper he'd gottired o' whistng for a breeze an' bossing round with his hands in bis pockets, so he'd ettled down in his big canvass chair n the poop wi' a long pipe an' a glass ' grog alongside him, an' the rest of s was for'ard, some washin' clothes, ome playin' cards, most lyin' on their jacks doin' nothing at all, when all on suddint we hears a voice hailing the up seemingly right under the bows. rp we all jumps an'sure enough there was nothing to be seen, 'cept the wirl o' the tide running past the cale. 'Well, oiie aays, 'Lhat's rum!' an' notlier saya, 'That was you!' an' in 'act most on us put it down to a young imb of a boy called Bill Masters, who was alwaya up to some monkey trick r other, though he swore as he'd ever said nothing, an' run to the side ike the rest. So presently we all setled down again, but we hadn't been o more'n two minutes afore we hears tie hail again. 'Blanche MacGregor, ahoy!' it says quite close to use, just as plaia as you hears me now, with a long sing out of the 'ahoy!' at the end. We rushes to the bulwarks again, feelin' certain this time there must be a boat alongside, but when we tlnds nothin' there as before, by George, some of 'euj looked up rather pale an' began to ask each other in a whisper, what on airth it could ba. Then souiebody says, 'That's that young B'll!' aud we all feels quite relieved an' says, 'Why in courseit is!, and' goes for Bill. But no sooner was he knocked head over leels down the fok'sle ladder, where he ies sniveling at the bottom, au' the )o'sen was s'ecting a lanyard for to !ollow him with, than the voice comes again plainer than ever: "Blanche yiacGregor, ahoy! ahoy'-twicethis time. STone on us goes to the side any more ;hen, but we all took to our heels, and rushed aft ks hard as we could go, main scared I can teil you; fors we sees then that there was somethin' in it more'n ilesh an' blood could take soundings of. The noise woke the akipper, an' he jumps out of his chair an' look over the poop at us on the deck below, an' aska what's the matter None on us liked to say, but at last the carpe ter speaks tip an says how we had heart' somebody hailing the ship. ' 'Hailing theship!' roars the oid inai in i paasion: 'its my belief you've UI been hailing some o' that inferna squareface you've been buyin ashore you're drunk, all the lot of yoif. (iet way for'ard au don't let me hear any more, or some of you'll be hailing a rope'send!' 'Well, we slunk oiï' feelin' pretty small, but just as we reached the waist we hears young Bill Masters, who hac tumbled out of the foke'sle, yell out 'Lord ha mercy; look there!' and come flyin' towards us. An' 1 can teil you when I see what was comin' up ove the bows, all my inside seemed to go to ice. 'There was a man's head and should ers rising over the bulwarks, but suc! i head an' such a face as nobody eve see afore. Long hair an' long beard an shaggy eyebrows, all like teased out rope yarn, and big round eyes, an' a sort o' pretty colored skin' an' the arms an' breast covered with close amooth seaweed, like the green labor you see on the rocks at low tide. But when he draws himself up by the arms lie flings up a big flsh's tail like a dolphin's instead of legs into the air, an' jerks hisself inboard, where he falls with a whack on the deck an' I see it were a merman. Back we runs again an' all huddle behind the main-mast on the larboard side, for the merman was coming aft at f uil speed on the other - flop, flop, flop, like a flsh hops about out o' the water, only more reg'lar an' as straight as a line, with his head up an' a sort of snakey movement from his breast to his tail that sends him along at the rate o' knots. The skipper heard us run back and jumps out of his chair with an oath, but when he sees what was coming toward him, his long pipe drops from his handan' he stands with his hair nearly liftin' his broad-brirnïned Panama an' his face as white as a sheet. As soon as the merman got to the break of the poop he shot up straight, throwing a round turn in his tail to lean back on. 'Are you the capen of this ship ?' he says. 'Yes, sir!' says the skipper, werry humble, an' shakin' all over; 'yes, your service.' 'l've hailed your vessel three times, cap'en, I read her name on the bow down below - an' nobody was perlite enough to answer, so I've come up the cable,' says the merman, severe like. 'I'm werry sorry, sir, as you should have had so much trouble,' put's in the cap'en; 'wot kin I have the pleasure of doin' for you f 'Well, it ain't much,' says the merman, a bit softer, 'but you've bin and dropped your anchor right in front of our chapel door, an' our i'olks can't get in. We didn't have no meetin' this nornin' au' the ladies say they must ïave their reg'lar Sunday evenin' tonight, so we'd take it as a great favor f you'd Bhif t your anchor i couple of 'athoms or so to the east'ard, afore ïalf-past seven.' 'Just theu the steward put his ïead up through the cabin skylight, an uietly shoves the skipper'sgun, loaded n' f uïl cock, into his hand; but the merman was too quick for him, an' beore he could get the gun to his shouldr he was gone over the side and disap)eared under water with a flop of his ail again' the ship's side. For a minute or two nobody spoke or moved, an' tiere wasn't a sound to be heard, 'cept he lap o' the water again' the side an' he ciank o' the tiller-chains, an' we all eemed dazed like. The mate was flrst ,o speak. 'Shall we haul taut the cable an' ift the anchor, sir?' says he, touching is cap to the skipper, who was still tandin' on fhe break of the poop bove. 'That seemed to wake him up, for e'd been staudin' in a sort of dream wonderin' whether he was asleep or whether he'd hadone Sunday tot of rum oo many. 'Not youl' heroars out: 'this is some ubberly trickyou're been playing! 111 each you to skylark with me! 111 og the whole lot of you - 111 fine you wo days' payl Be off, will you? If ny man talks about shifting that nchor 111 clap him in irons!' 'Off we goes for'ard again, an' the )os'en pipes all hands down to supper. Ve didn't talk about many other beide the merman, you may suppose, jut it was a cur'ous thing that no two f us could agree 'xactly about what ie was like. Some said he were as tail a the mammast, and some said he warn't no taller than the main hateh ombing. 1 said he were about the )uild of a thiokset man, only about nine foot long on account of the lish,ail, au' some on us went on deck to measure the wet trails, but the old nan caught slght of us an' made us queegee it out directly. But we all aid among ourselves as how somethin' vould come of it, if he didn't haul up he mud hook; an' somethin' did come of it very soon. 'I shall never forgit that night. We had flnished supper an' was all on deck in the second dog-watch; there was no wind yet, an' everything was quiet, whea three bella went. An' tb en we all remembered that it was at three bells as the merman had said their chapel was to begin. But before we could speak a word the water was all live as if million8 of flsh was playin' around, not jumpln' or splashin,' but seemin'lyfjust below the surf ace - all alive an' all Ore, too, with the glint o' thousanda of looking-glasses flashin' in all directions. An' it got more an' more, till bimeby in the middle watch we goes an' prays the skipper for heaven's sake to shift the anchor, an' he jumps on deck with a oath in lus mouth, when on a suddint he stops an' shrieks out, 'She's adrift - we'er lost!' 'An' sure she was. ïhe eritters had mocked the bolt out o' the shackel that ;ent the anchor on to the cabio, just at chapel-time, for we must ha' drifted better nor six miles; an' bef ore he could get to the wheel the breakers seemed to come up out of the dark on our starbqard beatn, an' the ship struek on the rocks with a crash that flung us all off our feet an' brought her top-hamper down about us. An' in the breakers was the glint of the lookin'-glasses, an' sotne on 'em af terwards said theyheard the ringing of church bells. 'The spanker-boom feil on the skipper, an' killed hini on the spot. The rest on us managed to get on to the island at daylight, all but the steward - him that loaded the gun; a big wave come p an' took him back just as he reached the last rock safely, 'an' he never rose no more. An' tho' you don't see no mermaids now, you eau of 'en an' of'en see the glint o' their lookin'glasses in the water on stormy nights - fuzz-friz, some calis it, but I kuow better. 1 ought to know somethin' about it. If I hadn'tkuowed somethin' of mermaids when I was wrecked in the South Seas, them islandere would ha' eat - ' 'But, Fern,' 1 ínter polated, putting the conversational helm hard over to steer clear of thia tropical Charybdis, 'why don't we see them uow ?' 'Wel!, I can teil you, an' thtre's not many men alive as can. When 1 - you see, sir; you nuakes a half hitch an reeves the end o' the line through the bight, like this - so.' From a suddenly assuuied respectful tone, and hin catching up the end of the fore top-sail clewline, which lay hard by him, and manipulating it in illustration of his wholly irrelevant remark, I inferred that the seeond officer, to whose watch I belonged, had nove within the horizon of Fern's solitary eye. We youngsters were not allowed to go forward among the sailors, except no and again under the pretext of learning knots and splices, so I became exceedingly engrossed in the mysteries of the bowline then in explicatiou. I may say, however, that this show of instruction on Fern'K part was not designed so much as to save me f rom a sharp reprimand, ot to insure the continued pleasure of my society, as to account for the temporary disuse of the scraper. O ur conf ab was not interrupted, so, dropping the rope, he again resumed: 'I were shipmate with tlie weiy man as were the cause of it, an' I got it from his own lips, hisself an' no other. We was crusin' in tho West Indies. an' takin' in stores afore goin south. That was in the Bluesiflis, a fine bark-rigged vessel of eïght hundrcd tons; carrying fore and niain skysails, an' had a big white 'orse for a figger head.' 'The Bucephalus!' 1 exclaimed, by sudden inspiration. But 1 bit my tongue directly the word had slipped out, for the old man had come to a dead halt, and slowly rolled his one eye round at me with a balef ui glare. 'Wot did I say?' he demanded, severely. 'All right, Fern. go on.' But Fern was not all right, and would not go on. His finer feelings ïad been hiut by the implied inaccuracy of his classical pronunciation, and he ;ook up the scraper fov a moment with anoffended air. But another idea struck nni. 'Have you got any more o' that baccy?' I handed him the plug, and he wieaked his vengewice on that to such an extentthat thepoor little remnant which went back into my pocket was not bigger than the reserve piece he stowed away in his cap; while the magnitude of his fresh quid rendered his voice lusoiously indistinctduring the rest of the narration. 'Takin' in stores, we was, here an' ihere, aad was pretty near provisioned nfull; the last place we put into was Granada, for sugar an' rum. Didn't ;o into the bay, but anehored in the oadstead outside St. George's. The casks of rum carne off in a lighter an' we was hoisting 'em in as last as we cotild, for it was close on sunset an no wilight. there, an' ve was to sail the same night, as the wind was fair. My mate, Josh Stevens, was down in the ighter helping the niggers to sling the casks. it was just dark as we got the ast one in the sling, but somehow it lipped as we hoisted it over the gunwhale of the boatand feil into the sea with a splash. Spirit-caaks was diferent things in them days lo what they s now - bound with thick iron an' tuilt of hard-wood staves as heavy as ron, so down goes this 'ere cask to the )ottom like a twenty-four pun shot. If it had been daylight, no doubt you might ha' seen it lyin' there, for the water off (irandma's as clear as crystal; 've seen the ship's anchor lyin' on the white sand fathoms deep many a time; h' you can look down an' see the coral an' weedsgrowin' ín trees an' bushes; with bright-colored lishes an' seanakes a-lyin' in an' out between 'em iko birds, an' allsortso'shellscrawlin' about. But 'twas pitch dark now, an' rou couldn't see the lighter on the top, nuch less the barrel at the botton). The skipper was standin' by hurrying is up, when it went over- a good man he were, but a tyrant when his temer got out, an' when he hears his :ask go splash, he went clean off his ïead, an' stamped an' swore like a madman. Josh Stevens cried out 'rom below that it warn't his fault, bat twas no good. 'Look here!' he yelled out, leaping on to the rail foamin' and cursin' and holding on by thebackstays vhile he huug over, 'look here, you - ' ' the gem of the gallant captain's speech, icked out from the elabórate setting of profanity in which it was ensbrined, consisted of the observation that the unfortunate Mr. Stevens should go af;er the lost cask of spirits.) 'When Josh heard that, he sang out, 'Ay ay, siri'sad like, but just as cool as anything; an' there was another splash in ihe darle down below, au the niggers n the boat called out: 'De man gone, 8ah!' Weli the skipper was taken aback, then, an we all listened with our hands to our ears to hear hiaicome up again. an' presently the skipper called out, with his volee all quaverïng, 'Come on board, you fooi!' lor you see he was sorry then lor the rage he'd aeeu iu, and f rightened to think as how ae'd sent the man to his death; but there was no answer. Then he ordered all the boats to be lowere d an' we pulled round and round the ship far and near f or hours, but no sign of poor Josh could we see. 1 was stroke of the cap'en's gig ; the capfn hisself steered her all the time, and when he gave orders about two in themornin' to return to the ship, I could see by the light of the Iant9rn in the bucket at his feet as he aat in the stern-sheets, that his face was as pale as death, but he never said a word. His was the laat boat to be pulled up, an' he stood up while he nitched her on the falls, with hia hand shading his eyes, lookin' into the black night to the last moment. But just arter we got on board, an' all hands was piped to stations for sailing, the leadsman in thechainsays he hsars a sliout. Presentiy we all hears it, repeated, an' ten minutes later the hghter that had sheared off when the boats were lowered comes aiongside with the nigger-j sweatiug at their oars like bulls. Au' in the bottom of the boat was Josh, an' not only Josh, but the barrel of rum, all drippiug wet. Joah was' lyin' there like one dead, and had to be slung an' hoisted like the barrel, but we didu't let neither of 'ein slip this time, you bet. The Bkipper asks no (juestions, but chucks a handful of dollars into the lighter, an' away we went. 'Next day Josh carne round, but never spoke a word about where he'd been to underthesea to 110 livin' soul, tillhe told me one night many months arter, as we lay luique. But afore then a sing'lar thing happened. Wheu the cask was broached, it turned out to be ful o' salt water instead o' rum. Josh heard of it but he din't say nothin' anc i the skipper uever asked no question or said a word. But not long arter that Josh told me the whole circumstance. ' 'When I heard the old man take on so that night.' lie said, 'I was desp'rate riled, for 'twas no fault o' mine that it slipped f rom the sling ; my moukey was up, an' thinks 1, 111 gojdown an' see.if I can touch it anyhow, and without more thought, down 1 goes. 1 kin dive pretty well, as you know, an' stayed down a good spell, but no cask could I flnd among the weeds, an' I was just feelin' liko to.bust, an' turnin' for the top again wlien 1 found 1 was tangled in a long creepin' brancb. 1 didn't lose my head, but turned round to free myseli, when in strugglin' I seemed to slip downward instead of up through the boughs of the weed, an' all on a suddint I flnds myself in a sort of garden, light as day, with green grassj a-growingj undei foot, an' flowers an' trees overhead meeting like a roof, only it was all seaweed. Right in front was a lot of pillara and arenes built of white coral, that stretched away and away till they were lost, like lookin' in the two looking' glasses what faces esch other in the cap'en's stateroom, an' in an' out o' these queer arenes queer sorts of flahes was glidin' about, for 'twas all water down there, but somehow I seemed to find my breath all right an' not want to come up. An' the light seemed to flll the place warm like mild sunshine, for overhead where the weeds met, it was black as night. but the roof was studded with starflshes an' inirninies all colors of therainbow, but what struck me flrst was that there cask lyin' on the ground, an'round it was a school of merrnaids and mermen, lookin' at it an' apparently wond'ring what it was, for they whisked it round an' round wi' the eddy of their tails an' flngered it all over. iV.ll at once one catches sight o' me an' says: 'Here is a man,' she says, 'froui the dry 'land!' 'No, Miss,' I says, touchin' my cap, 'beggin' o' your parding, l'm a sailor, 1 am.' 'Kin you teil us what that is, sir?' she says. 'I kin,' 1 says; 'that's rum, that ís.' Wot's rum ? she says, 'Rum is the staff o' life.' 1 vsays. 'Law!' she says, 'liow f unny! An' wot do you do with it. sirV' 'Drink it,' I says. Says she, 'Would you be so kind an' perlite, sir, as to show us how you do it?' 'Certainly.' 1 says, -hev you got a cup handy?' So they brings me a halfpint shell, aud 1 knocks the bung and draws out a shellful. 'But,' I says, 'I couldn't think o' drinking afore ladies. After you, Miss,' says i, passing the shell. Well, there was a lot o' giggling an' whisperin', but it last she drinks it off an' seems to like it; and then the others has a try at it, an' the mermen, too, me takin' a uhell in between each, to show them the way, till at last we got very cumferble, and the cask was empty. Then 1 suddenly remembers as it were about time for me to be gettin' back, an' I gets up and says they'd have o 'xcuse me 'cause my leave was up, ut the mermaid as had spoke to me irst - she was sittin' on my kqpe - she says: 'Don't go yet,' she 3ays, 'what's ■our hurry ?' An' with that she shakes ïer long golden hair, and glimses out at; me under her eyelids. Nice-lookin' jal she were, too. But I said I must ;ake the barrel back, as 'twas perticker. Howsumever, she w as like the rest of her sect and wouldn't take -no ör an answer, so she says: 'it's apity a being like you should be vvasted up ■here. Stay an' be one of us. Stay an' e mine!' an' blovv me if she didn't heave her arms around my neck. An' all the others joined in chorus, and comes around puttiii' their cheeks again mine, an' huggin' an' kissin' an' ayin' 'Stay with us, thou lovely bein' rom the dry land!' But all the mermen stood back leanin' against the irehes, lookin' precious glum, so, thinks , there'li be a row here presently, an' . makes a juinpfor the cask, shoves ,he bung in, (torgetlmg that the water ïad been running in all this while) akes it up, au' makes a spring for the oof with all that orowd of mermaids n chase. 1 should never ha' got away f it hadu't ha' been for the mermen; jut they helped me through the weed, an' carried the barrel up lor me. I come up alongside the lighter an' was ifted in just as I fainted, ar mayhap I hould ha' been a merman myself ,now.' 'That's what Josh told me, hisself, an' no other, an' never said not a word of it, for six weeks arter that we got wrecked together, an' the savages eat him. They'd got up a yarn on board previous, that the dropping the cask over was a plan between him an' the niggers, an' that there was a liae fast to it when it went, so that it was haulen in again directly; an' that they took it ashore in the lighter, an' Josh, too, and paid hlm Die money agreed, au' emptied the cask aa' fllled it up with salt water, an' that Josh got drunk before he was brought back to the snip. But I knows better, an' 'cause why? Here's a proof oí it. Why don't we see no mermaids uow.says you ? 'Cause ever since they tasted that rum an' liked it so, they've been wanting some more,an' the news has spread among 'em all over the world; so instead of comin' up on the rocks now an' singin' they're down searchin' all the old wrecks and sunken ships, lookin' tor rum barrels. That's how 'tis people says there ain't no mermaids now!' 'But, Fern, how is it the salt water didn'tmix with the rum when they drank it out oí the shell ?' 'There goes eight bells!' said Fern, who invariably went below the instant nis watch ou deck was up, and dissppeared forthwith. ' What have you been doing forward ?' growled the seond offlcer as I went aft to report the bell. 'Jipson's been - been showing me knots, sir!' 1 stammered, rather confused. 'SUowing you kuets 'f Ah, and jawing to you, I suppose, all the time?' 'He - he told me one or two stories about ships, sir, while he was showing me.' 'Yarns, boy; spuu you yarns, jou mean,' said the second offlcer, turning away vith a grim smile; 'never aay 'telling stories' at sea.'


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