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to redeem it, he might run into the arms of the searching Law, and he and it too would be gone. But he had not the money. The cold dew broke out on his face as he stood beside the pump-handles of the beer-shop. But Mr. Potts had been watching him for some time. He knew the look of those tickets, and dull as his brain was, with a dulness that was cousin to his red nose, he divined at once that Thomas's painful contemplation had to do with some effects of which those tickets were the representatives. He laid his hand on Thomas's shoulder from behind. Thomas gave a great start.
“I beg your pardon for frightening of you, sir," said Mr. Potts ; “ but I believe a long experience in them things makes me able to give you good advice.”
“What things ?" asked Thomas.
“Them things,” repeated Potts, putting a fat forefinger first on the one and then on the other pawn-ticket. “ 'Twasn't me, nor yet Bessie. It's long since I was at my uncle's. All I had to do there was a gettin' of 'em down the spout. I never sent much up it : my first wife, Joan-not Bessie, bless her! Now I ain't no witch, but I can see with 'alf heye that you've got summat at your uncle's you don't like to leave there, when you're a goin' a voyagin' to the ends o' the earth. Have you got the money as well as the tickets ?”
“Oh dear no !” answered Thomas, almost crying.
“Come now," said Potts, kindly, “sweep out the chimley. It's no use missing the crooks and corners, and having to send a boy up after all. Sweep it out. Tell me all about it, and I'll see what í can do-or can't do, it may be.”
Thomas told him that the tickets were for a watch-a gold watch, with compensation balance—and a diamond ring. He didn't care about the watch ; but he would give his life to get the ring again.
Let ne look at the tickets. How much did you get on 'em, separate ?"
Thomas said he did not know, but gave him the tickets to examine.
Potts looked at them. 6 You don't care so much for the watch ?” he said.
No, I don't," answered Thomas; "though my mother did give it me," he added, ruefully. “Why don't
you offer 'em both of the tickets for the ring, then ?" said Potts.
“What?” said Thomas. “I don't see”
“You give 'em to me," returned Potts. Here, Bessie !—You go in and have a chat with the captain.—I'm going out, Bessie, for an hour. Tell the captain not to go till I come back.”
So saying Potts removed his white apron, put on a black frock coat and hat, and went out, taking the tickets with him.
Mrs. Potts brought a tumbier of grog for her brother, and he sat sipping it. Thomas refused to join him ; for he reaped this good from his sensitive organization, that since the night on which it had helped to ruin him, he could scarcely endure even the smell of strong drink. It was rather more than an hour before Mr. Potts returned, during which time Thomas had been very restless and anxious. But at last his host walked into the back room, laid a small screw of paper before him, and said
There's your ring, sir. You won't want your watch this voyage. I've got it, though; but I'm forced to keep it, in case I should be behind with my rent. Any time you look in, I shall have it, or know where it is."
Thomas did what he could to express his gratitude, and took the ring with a wonderful feeling of relief. It seemed like a pledge of further deliverance. He begged Mr. Potts to do what he pleased with the watch; he didn't care if he never saw it again ; and hoped it would be worth more to him than what it had cost him to redeem them both. Then, after many kind farewells, he took his leave with the captain of the “Raven.” As they walked along, he could not help looking round every few yards; but after his new friend had taken him to a shop, where he bought a blue jersey and a glazed hat, and tied his coat up in a handkerchief, his sole bundle of luggage, he felt more comfortable. In a couple of hours he was on board the “Raven," a collier brig of between two and three hundred tons. They set sail the same evening ; but not till they reached the Nore did Thomas begin to feel safe from pursuit.
The captain seemed a good deal occupied with his own thoughts, and there were few things they understood in common, so that Thomas was left mostly to his own company ; which, though far from agreeable, was no doubt the very best for him under the circumstances. For it was his real self that he looked in the facethe self that told him what he was, showed him whence he had fallen, what he had lost, how he had hitherto been wasting his life, and how his carelessness had at length thrown him over a precipice up which he could not climb--there was no foothold upon it. But this was not all : he began to see not only his faults, but the weakness of his character, the refusal to combat which had brought him to this pass. His behaviour to Lucy was the bitterest thought of all. She looked ten times more lovely to him now that he had lost her. That she should despise him was terrible—even more terrible the likelihood that she would turn the rich love of her strong heart upon some one else. How she had entreated him to do her justice ! And he saw now that she had done so even more for his sake than for her own. He had not yet any true idea of what Lucy was worth. He did not know how she had grown since the time when, with all a girl's inexperience, she had first listened to his protestations. While he had been going down the hill, she had been going up. Long before they had been thus parted, he would not have had a chance of winning her affections had he had then to make the attempt. But he did see that she was infinitely beyond hiin, infinitely better than-to use a common phrase- he could have deserved if he had been as worthy as he fancied himself. I say a common phrase, because no man can ever descrve a woman. Gradually-by what gradations he could not have told the truth, working along with his self-despising, showed him something of all this ; and it was the first necessity of a nature like his to be taught to look down on himself. As long as he thought himself more than somebody, no good was to be expected of him. Therefore, it was well for him that the worthlessness of his character should break out and show itself in some plainly worthless deed, that he might no longer be able to hide himself from the conviction and condemnation of his own conscience. Hell had come at last; and he burned in its fire.
He was very weary and went to bed in a berth in the cabin. But he was awaked while it was yet quite dark by the violent rolling and pitching of the vessel, the running to and fro overhead. He got up at once, dressed in haste, and clambered up the companion-ladder. It was a wild scene. It had come on to blow hard. The brig was under reefed topsails and jib; but Thomas knew nothing of sea affairs. She was a good boat, and rode the seas well. There was just light enough for him to see the water by the white rents in its darkness. Fortunately, he was one of those few favoured individuals in whose nerves the motions of a vessel find no response-I mean he did not know what sea-sickness was. And that storm came to hiin a wonderful gift from the Father who had not forgotten his erring child—so strangely did it harınonize with his troubled mind. New strength, even hope in. vaded his weary heart from the hiss of the wind through the cordage as it bellied out from the masts; his soul rejoiced in the heave of the wave under the bows and its swift rush astern ; and though he had to hold hard by the weather shrouds, not a shadow of fear crossed his mind. This may have partly come from life being to him now a worthless thing, save as he had some chance of-he did not know what ; for although he saw no way of recovering his lost honour, and therefore considered that eternal disgrace was his, even if God and man forgave him, there was yet a genuine ray of an unknown hope borne into him, as I say, from the crests of those broken waves. But I think it was natural to Thomas to fear nothing that merely involved danger to himself. In this respect he possessed a fine physical courage. It was in moral courage—the power of looking human anger and contempt in the face, and holding on his own way—that he was deficient. I believe that this came in a great measure from his delicate, sensitive organization. He could look a storm in the face; but a storm in a face he could not endure ; he quailed before it. He would sail ever a smooth human sea if he might : when a wind rose there, he would be under bare poles in a moment. Of course this sensitiveness was not in itself an evil, being closely associated with his poetic tendencies, which ought to have been the centre from which all the manlier qualities were influenced for culture and development; but he had been spoiled in every way, not least by the utterly conflicting discords of nature, objects, and character in his father and mother. But although a man may be physically brave and morally a coward -a fact too well known to be insisted upon-a facing of physical danger will help the better courage in the man whose will is at all awake to cherish it; for the highest moral courage is born of the will, and not of the organization. The storm wrought thus along with all that was best in him. In the fiercest of it that night, he often found himself kissing Lucy's ring, which, as soon as he began to know that they were in some danger, and not till then, he had, though with a strong feeling of the sacrilege of the act, ventured to draw once more upon his unworthy hand.
The wind increased as the sun rose. If he could only have helped the men staggering to and fro, as they did on the great sea in the days of old! But he did not know one rope from another. Two men were at the wheel. One was called away on some emergency aloft. Thomas sprang to his place.
“I will do whatever you tell me," he said to the steersman; only let me set a man free."
Then he saw it was the captain himself. He gave a nod, and a squirt of tobacco-juice, as cool as if he had been steering with a light gale over a rippling sea. Thomas did his best, and in five minutes had learned to obey the word the captain gave him as he watched the binnacle. About an hour after the sun rose, the wind began to moderate : and before long the captain gave up the helm to the mate, saying to Thomas,
“We'll go and have some breakfast. You've earned your rations anyhow. Your father ought to have sent you to sea. It would have made a man of you."
This was not very complimentary. But Thomas had only a suppressed sigh to return for answer. He did not feel himself worth defending any more.
THOMAS RETURNS TO LONDON.
AFTER this Thomas made rapid progress in the favour of Captain Smith. He had looked upon him as a land-lubber before, with the contempt of his profession ; but when he saw that, clerk as he
was, he was yet capable at sea, he began to respect him. Thomas wakened up more and more to an interest in what was going on around him, he did not indulge in giving him fool's answers to the questions he asked, as so many seafarers would have been ready to do ; and he soon found that Thomas's education, though it was by no means a first-rate one, enabled him to ask more questions with regard to the laws of wind and water and the combination of forces than he was quite able to solve. Before they reached the end of the voyage, Thomas knew the rigging pretty well
, and could make himself useful on board. Anxious to ingratiate himself with the captain-longing almost unconsciously for the support of some human approbation, the more that he had none to give himself-he laid himself out to please him. Having a very good head, he soon found himself able to bear a hand in taking in a reef in the fore-topsail; and before long he could steer by the course with tolerable stcadiness. The sailors were a not unsociable set of men, and as he presumed upon nothing, they too gave him what help they could, not without letting off a few jokes at his expense, in the laughter following on which he did his best to join. The captain soon began to order him about like the rest, which was the best kindness he could have shown him; and Thomas's obedience was more than prompt-it was as pleasant as possible. He had on his part some information to give the captain ; and their meals in the cabin together were often merry enough.
“Do you think you could ever make a sailor of me?" asked Tom one day.
“Not a doubt of it, my boy," the captain answered. • A few voyages more, and you'll go aloft like a monkey."
“Where do you think of making your next voyage, sir ?” asked Tom.
“Well, I'm part owner of the brig, and can do pretty much as I like. I did think of Dundee."
“I should have thought they had coal enough of their own thereabouts."
“A cargo of English coal never comes amiss. It's better than theirs by a long way.”
“Would you take me with you ? "
“You'll soon be worth your wages. I can't say you are yet, you know.”
“Of course not. You must have your full crew besides.”
“We're one hand short this voyage ; and you've done something to fill the gap."
“ I'm very glad, I'm sure. But what would you advise me to do when we reach Newcastle ? It will be some time before you get off again."