Captain John's Adventures or, The Story of a Fatherless Boy
CAPTAIN JOHN’S ADVENTURES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|WHAT A LITTLE BOY CAN DO.||56|
CAPTAIN JOHN’S ADVENTURES
The Story of a Fatherless Boy
EDINBURGH & LONDON
OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER
OLIPHANT ANDERSON & FERRIER’S
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
|Captain John’s Adventures.||Susy Miller.|
|Biddy. By S. C. P.||Susy’s Birthday.|
|The Gardener’s Daughter.||Happy Ellen.|
|Jessy Allan, the Lame Girl.||Kitty Brown.|
|The Orphan of Kinloch.||The Best Friend.|
|Douglas Roy, and other Stories.||Red and White Roses.|
|Tibby. By S. C. P.||Little Goldenlocks.|
|Widow Gray.||Nanette’s New Shoes.|
|French Bessie. By S. C. P.||Katie’s Christmas Lesson.|
|Two Gathered Lilies.||Tom’s Memorable Christmas.|
|The Pearl of Forgiveness.||The Pearl Necklace.|
|The Pearl of Contentment.||Bess: The Story of a Waif.|
|The Pearl of Peace.||The Bonnie Jean.|
|The Pearl of Meekness.||The Story of a Cuckoo Clock.|
|The Pearl of Faith.||Syd’s New Pony.|
|The Pearl of Diligence.||The Witch of the Quarry Hut.|
|Little Henry and His Bearer.||Our Father. By Sarah Gibson.|
|The Little Forester.||A Little Home-Ruler.|
|The Little Woodman.||Nellie’s First Fruits.|
|Waste Not, Want Not.||Bunny’s Birthday.|
|The White Dove.||Di’s Jumbo. By M. J. M. Logan.|
|The Bracelets.||Dick: A Missionary Story.|
|Paul Cuffee, the Black Hero.||How Daisy became a Sunbeam.|
|Blanche Gamond.||Marjory’s Story.|
|Little Blue Mantle.||Jack’s Hymn. By Elizabeth Olmis.|
|Ways of Wisdom.||Little Tom Thumb.|
|The Best Work.|
|The Best Warfare.|
|Won for the Kingdom.|
MORRISON AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
CAPTAIN JOHN’S ADVENTURES
THE FISHERMAN’S DWELLING—HOME MADE DESOLATE.
RICHARD LEDDAM was apoor man, who obtained asubsistence by toiling in allweathers in catching fish and oysters,which he sold to persons whosebusiness it was to supply the city market.The village in which he lived was exposedon one side to the ocean waves, the otherwas washed by the calmer waters of abay. Here a few families were inducedto dwell, invited by the facilities for procuringfish.
Lonely as the village was, it was notan unpleasant spot; the grounds wereshaded by fine trees, and the constant seabreeze rendered the atmosphere cool andhealthy. On a little indenture of theshore, where the bay setting in formed acove, stood the cabin of the fisherman.It was built of logs, and a sloping shedprotected the house from winter stormsand summer suns. Beneath this shelterwere kept, when not in use, the fishingboat and the fishing tackle. Here too thefamily assembled in fine weather, andthence the anxious wife sent many awishful glance, when expecting her husband’sreturn.
Their family consisted of two boys,John and Henry, and three daughters.
Here they lived in rude comfort—poor,but not destitute; and when, after asuccessful day, the family met in theirhumble home, from which they lookedout on the sparkling waters, while thefather related his adventures, they mightbe called happy, as far as exemption fromcare could make immortal beings happy.
But of his glorious birthright as an immortalspirit, Richard Leddam thought not.If he mentioned the name of his Creator,it was only to profane it. There was noprayer offered to God in that family, andSabbaths came and went, not reverenced,almost unheeded. Once, while at a neighbouringcity, where he had gone with aboat load, his little vessel was visited bya Christian gentleman, who gave him aBible, which he brought to his wife; butwhether it was prized as it deserved to be,or whether the fisherman, in his solitaryhours upon the sea, ever turned in repentanceto his God and Saviour, none can tell.
One boisterous day in November he leftthe cove, thinking that the wind wouldlull by noon. His wife remembered thatwhen he had gone a few steps from thedoor he returned to bid them farewellagain, and placing his hand on John’shead, told him to be good, and help hismother.
The wind increased through the day,and the tempest was fearful all night.When the light dawned, the distressedfamily beheld the boat floating upwards,—buttheir only friend they never saw again.
With the assistance of a neighbour theboat was drawn up, and placed in its usualresting-place in the shed. The childrengathered around it with sorrowful faces,as if it had been their father’s coffin. Themother looked silently on the helplesslittle ones; then, leaning her face on herhand, as she rested on the side of the boat,she wept piteously. One of the neighboursperceiving a Bible, which lay on ashelf, took it down and read the eleventhchapter of John. The word of Godsoothed the poor widow’s grief; and whenthey were alone she said to her son, ‘Readto me those good words again.’ Howmany sorrowful hearts have those goodwords relieved!
THEY MOVE TO THE CITY.
THE kind neighbour who loved theBible, and had read it to the poorwidow, came daily to read more of the‘good words.’ The clergyman too cameto visit her in her sorrow, and explained toher the words that had soothed her evenwhile she understood them but imperfectly.Mrs Leddam felt how sinful she had beenin living all her life without a thought ofGod, and now in her affliction she turnedto Him whom she had so long forgotten.
The good clergyman spoke to her ofJesus, the Saviour of sinners, throughwhom alone we can receive pardon andpeace; and the poor widow prayed to thisblessed Saviour as she had never prayedbefore, and He heard her and comforted herheart; for He has said, ‘Him that comethunto me, I will in no wise cast out.’
As John was too young to manage theboat, it was sold with the nets and fishingtackle, and the widow with her five childrenremoved to the neighbouring town, whereshe hoped to find employment in sewing.She hired a small house in the outskirts ofthe town; and there, with her little flockaround her, she felt like a desolate stranger.
How little do those children who areblessed with many comforts know of thetrials of the poor and fatherless!
But the widow had now a source ofcomfort in her trials. John daily readsome of the ‘good words’ to his mother.They rejoiced in God’s many promises tothe widow and the fatherless, and trustedthat He would provide. The town wassituated on the bank of a broad river, andthe widow’s cottage stood not far from thewater. Near it stood a small house, whichone would have said had been built by asailor; and he would have said rightly, forCaptain Sam had made his dwelling asmuch like the vessel in which he had spenthis best days as he could. In front of thehouse was a small porch, shaded by a sail;and here the old man passed the most ofhis time, smoking his pipe. The poorneighbours thought that Captain Sam wasa rich man, because he could afford to donothing.
Within sight of the captain’s house wasa grocer’s shop, where every morning numbersof poor children came to procuresupplies for the day. Among them thecaptain observed John and Henry, as havingclean faces, and as being neatly dressed.John’s attention had been attracted by thecaptain’s house. He admired the brightcolour with which it was painted, and hadconceived a great respect for its happyowner; for John, like the rest, thought itmust be very pleasant to be idle,—a greatmistake, as any one who will try it maysoon discover. Hearing the shopkeepercall him captain, he asked, ‘Is he a realcaptain, sir?’
‘How do I know, youngster?’ repliedthe man. ‘You had better ask him thatyourself.’
The next day, observing his motherweeping, John said, ‘Mother, can’t I getwork?’
She laid her hand on his head as shereplied, ‘What could you do, my son?’
‘A heap of things,’ he said earnestly.‘I can help to row, and mend the nets.’
‘But we are now far away from thefishing. We are in a strange place, full ofpeople, where, in the midst of plenty, weare likely to come to want; for this is thelast money I have in the world.’
‘Oh, mother!’ said the terrified boy,‘will they let us starve? won’t some of therich people help you?’
‘I am going in search of work,’ repliedhis mother. ‘Take care of your brotherand sisters until I return.’
‘May I walk as far as the corner,mother?’
Giving him permission to do so, MrsLeddam left the house.
Now John had a plan of his own, buthe was puzzled to know how to bring itabout. He had often accompanied hisfather to the vessels in the bay, and had astrong partiality for sailors. He thoughtif he could but make a friend of this richcaptain, who lived in the fine house, howhappy he should be. So, after thinking itover, he resolved to see the captain, andtell him how poor his mother was. BiddingHenry watch his baby sister, he set outfor the corner; but as he walked on hefelt his courage become fainter, until hisyoung heart almost failed.
But we will turn to a new chapter torelate his introduction to the captain.
JOHN MAKES SOME ACQUAINTANCES.
JOHN had not walked far when he sawa horse galloping down the street: thepeople shouted, which only made the horserun the faster; but just as he reached thecorner, John made a spring, and, catchingthe rein, in a moment he was on his back.John’s time, when he lived at the fishingvillage, had been divided between ridingponies and paddling boats; but he hadnever ridden so fine an animal as this,—hisskin shone like satin, and his saddleand bridle were so handsome, that thelittle boy concluded he must belong tosome very rich captain indeed.
Directly a ragged boy came up to himwith ‘Halloo! there, what are you doingwith my horse?’
‘I caught him,’ said John, ‘but I don’tbelieve he belongs to you;’ so, touchinghis side with his heel, the spirited horseset off at full speed, and did not stop tillhe reached a handsome house, on the stepsof which stood a gentleman with a whipin his hand, just ready for a ride. Hewas pleased to get his horse, and put ashilling in John’s hand for his trouble.
So large a piece of money astonishedthe child; his eyes glistened, and, withoutknowing it, he spoke his thoughts: ‘Oh,mother, you need not have cried so!’
The gentleman was preparing to mounthis horse, but hearing these words, he said,‘What was the matter with your mother?’
‘She had no money to buy us bread, sir.’
‘Has she no work to do?’
‘We have just come here, and motherdoes not know any one.’
‘Why did you come here, boy?’
John thought this was a foolish question,but he answered, ‘Father wasdrowned, and mother couldn’t fish, andshe was afraid we should starve in thevillage; but I am more afraid of it here.’
The gentleman smiled and said, ‘I donot think there is much danger of that.’
But John looked in his face with aserious countenance, and said, ‘Peopleare obliged to starve when they have nomoney. I asked the shopkeeper for onebiscuit for the baby, and he said he wouldwhip me.’
‘The hard-hearted fellow!’ said thestranger to himself; then, looking at hiswatch, ‘I am hurried now, but bring yourmother here this evening.’ As he spokehe rode away; but checking his horse, hecalled to John, ‘My little lad, have youhad your breakfast? Ah! he is gone; Ishould have thought of that before.’ Buthappy John was already half way home.As he passed he saw Captain Sam seatedbefore his door, lighting his pipe; andhe determined to stop and speak to him.John began to think better of the towns-folk,as he called them; and the thoughtof having some money in his pocket gavehim more confidence, in which