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The Story of Paul Jones An Historical Romance von Lewis, Alfred Henry (eBook)

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The Story of Paul Jones

CHAPTER I-HIS BAPTISM OF THE SEA This is in the long-ago, or, to be exact, in July, 1759. The new brig Friendship, not a fortnight off the stocks, is lying in her home harbor of Whitehaven, being fitted to her first suit of sails. Captain Bennison is restlessly about her decks, overseeing those sea-tailors, the sail-makers, as they go forward with their task, when Mr. Younger, the owner, comes aboard. The latter gentleman is lowland Scotch, stout, middle-aged, and his severe expanse of smooth-shaven upper-lip tells of prudence, perseverance and Presbyterianism in even parts, as traits dominant of his character. 'Dick,' says Mr. Younger, addressing Captain Bennison, 'ye'll have a gude brig; and mon! ye s'uld have a gude crew. There'll be none of the last in Whitehaven, for what ones the agents showed me were the mere riff-raff of the sea. I'll even go to Arbigland, and pick ye a crew among the fisher people.''Arbigland!' repeats Captain Bennison, with a glow of approval. 'The Arbigland men are the best sailor-folk that ever saw the Solway. Give me an Arbigland crew, James, and I'll find ye the Rappahannock with the Friendship, within the month after she tears her anchor out o' Whitehaven mud.' And so Mr. Younger goes over to Arbigland. It is a blowing July afternoon. An off-shore breeze, now freshening to a gale, tosses the Solway into choppy billows. Most of the inhabitants of Arbigland are down at the mouth of the little tide-water creek, that forms the harbor of the village, eagerly watching a small fishing yawl. The latter craft is beating up in the teeth of the gale, striving for the shelter of the creek. The crew of the yawl consists of but one, and him a lad of twelve. His right hand holds the tiller; with the left he slacks or hauls the sheets, and shifts the sail when he goes about. The yawl has just heeled over on the starboard tack, as Mr. Younger pushes in among the villagers that crowd the little quay.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 303
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783736420571
    Verlag: anboco
    Größe: 799 kBytes
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The Story of Paul Jones


T he sun is struggling through the dust-coated, cobwebbed windows, and lighting dimly yet sufficiently the dingy office of Shipowner Younger of Whitehaven. That substantial man is sitting at his desk, eyes fixed upon the bristle of upstanding masts which sprout, thick as forest pines on a hillside, from the harbor basin below. The face of Shipowner Younger has been given the seasoning of several years, since he went to Arbigland that squall-torn afternoon, to pick up a crew for Dick Bennison. Also, Shipowner Younger shines with a new expression of high yet retiring complacency. The expression is one awful and fascinating to the clerk, who sits at the far end of the room. Shipowner Younger has been elected to Parliament, and his awful complacency is that elevation's visible sign. The knowledge of his master's election offers the basis of much of the clerk's awe, and that stipendary almost charms himself into the delusion that he sees a halo about the bald pate of Shipowner Younger.

The latter brings the spellbound clerk from his trance of fascination, by wheeling upon him.

"Did ye send doon, mon," he cries, "to my wharf, with word for young Jack Paul to come?"

The clerk says that he did.

"Then ye can go seek your denner."

The clerk, acting on this permission, scrambles to his fascinated feet. As he retires through the one door, young Jack Paul enters. The brown-faced boy of the Arbigland yawl has grown to be a brisk young sailor, taut and natty. He shakes the hand of Shipowner Younger, who gives him two fingers in that manner of condescending reserve, which he conceives to be due his dignity as a member of the House of Commons. Having done so much for his dignity, Shipowner Younger relaxes.

"Have a chair, lad!" he says. "Bring her here where we can chat."

The natty Jack Paul brings the clerk's chair, as being the only one in the room other than that occupied by Shipowner Younger. One sees the thorough-paced sailor in the very motions of him; for his step is quick, catlike and sure, and there is just the specter of a roll in his walk, as though the heaving swell of the ocean still abides in his heels. When he has placed the chair, so as to bring himself and Shipowner Younger face to face, he says:

"And now, sir, what are your commands'?"

"I'll have sent for ye, Jack," begins Shipowner Younger, portentously lengthening the while his shaven upper-lip-"I'll have sent for ye, for three several matters: To pay ye a compliment or twa; to gi' ye a gude lecture; an' lastly to do a trifle of business wi' ye, by way of rounding off. For I hold," goes on Shipowner Younger, in an admonishing tone, "that conversations which don't carry a trifle of business are no mair than just the crackle of thorns under a pot. Ye'll ken I'm rich, Jack-ye'll ken I can clink my gold, an' count my gold, an' keep my gold wi' the warmest mon in Whitehaven?"

Young Jack Paul smiles, and nods his full agreement.

"But ye'll no ken," goes on Shipowner Younger, with proud humility, the pride being real and the humility imitated-"ye'll no ken, I believe, that I'm 'lected to the Parleyment in Lunnon, lad?" Shipowner Younger pauses to observe the effect of this announcement of his greatness. Being satisfied, he goes on. "It's a sacrifeece, no doot, but I s'all make it. The King has need of my counsel; an', God save him! he s'all have it. For I've always said, lad, that a mon's first debt is to the King. But it'll mean sore changes, Jack, sore changes will it mean; for I'm to sell up my ships to the last ship's gig of 'em, the better to leave me hand-free and head-free to serve the King."

Young Jack Paul is polite enough to arch his brows and draw a serious face. Shipowner Younger is pleased at this, and, with a deprecatory wave of his hand, as one who dismisses discussion of misfortunes which are beyond the help

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