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Chapter Twenty Six.
A Friend in need—The Frenchmen catch a Tartar—The tables turned—Return to Old England—Off again to sea—England expects that every man will do his duty—Battle of Trafalgar—Wreck of our prize—My enemy found—Home—Conclusion.

I ought to have said that the larger portion of the ship’s company and all the officers had been removed at once on board the Ville de Milan. I, with about sixty or seventy others, remained on board the Cleopatra. I would rather have been out of the ship, I own. I could not bear to see her handled by the Frenchmen. Often and often I felt inclined to jump up and knock some of them down, just for the sake of giving vent to my feelings. Of course I did not do so, nor did I even intend to do so. It would have been utterly useless, and foolish in the extreme. I only describe my feelings, and I dare say they were shared by many of my shipmates.

Nearly a week thus passed, when one morning, as I was on deck, I saw a large ship standing towards us. What she was I could not at first say. The Frenchmen, at all events, did not like her looks, for I observed a great commotion among them. The two frigates had already as much sail set on their jury-masts as it was in any way safe to carry, so nothing more could be done to effect their escape should it be necessary to run for it, by the sail in sight being, what I hoped she was, a British man-of-war.

How eagerly I watched to see what would be done! The French officers kept looking out with their glasses, and constantly going aloft.

Soon the two frigates put up their helms and ran off before the wind, and almost at the same instant I had the satisfaction of seeing the stranger make all sail in chase.

One, at all events, was certain of being captured, for, knocked about as they had been, they made very little way. Anxiously I watched to ascertain to a certainty the character of the stranger. The Frenchmen, I doubted not, took her to be an English man-of-war, and I prayed that they might be right, but still I knew that their fears might cause them to be mistaken.

Most of the English prisoners were sent below, but I managed to stow myself away forward, and so was able to see what took place. On came the stranger. Gradually the foot of her topsails, and then her courses rose out of the water, and when at length her hull appeared I made out that she was not less than a fifty gun ship, and I had little doubt that she was English. The Frenchmen looked at her as if they would like to see her blow up, or go suddenly to the bottom. I watched her in the hope of soon seeing the glorious flag of Old England fly out at her peak. I was not long kept in doubt.

As soon as the ship got near enough to make out the French ensign flying on board the Cleopatra and Ville de Milan, up went the British ensign. Forgetting for the moment by whom I was surrounded, I could scarcely avoid cheering aloud as I watched it fluttering in the breeze. The Frenchmen, in their rage and disappointment, swore and stamped, and tore their hair, and committed all sorts of senseless extravagances, and I felt that it would be wise to keep out of their sight as much as possible, as some of them might, perchance, bestow on me a broken head, or worse, for my pains.

The two frigates closed for mutual support, but when I came to consider the condition they were in, I had little doubt that the English ship would be more than a match for them. The stranger had first been seen soon after daybreak. The people had now just had their breakfasts. They were not long below, for all were anxious to watch the progress of their enemy. The weather had been all the morning very doubtful, and thick clouds were gathering in the sky. My earnest prayer was that it would continue moderate; I began, however, to fear that my hopes would be disappointed. The clouds grew thicker and seemed to descend lower and lower, while a mist arose which every instant grew denser.

At length, when I had for a short time turned my head away from our big pursuer, I again looked out. What was my horror and disappointment not to be able to see the English ship in any direction! I looked around and tried to pierce the thick mist which had come on, but in vain; and again my heart sank within me. The Frenchmen also searched for their enemy; but when they could not find her, they, on the contrary, began to sing and snap their fingers, and to exhibit every sign of satisfaction at the prospect of escaping her.

One or two of my shipmates had slipped up on deck, and they returned with the sad tidings below. After a little time I joined them. I found them all deep in a consultation together. It was proposed that we should rise upon the French prize crew, and, taking the frigate from them, go in search of the English ship. Some were for the plan, some were against it. It was argued that the Ville de Milan would, at every risk, attempt to stop us—that, short-handed as we were, we could not hope to hold out against her—that we might very probably miss the English ship, and then, if we fell in with another Frenchman, we should very likely be treated as pirates.

I rather agreed with these last-mentioned opinions; still, as I have said, I felt ready to undertake any enterprise, however desperate. Hour after hour passed away. The Frenchmen kept walking the deck and rubbing their hands, as the prospect of escape increased.

Suddenly we heard them stop. I slipped up again on deck; a breeze had carried away the mist, and there, right away to windward, was the English ship, much nearer than when she had last been seen. I did cheer now, I could not help it. The Frenchmen were too much crestfallen to resent by a blow what they must have looked upon as an insult, but an officer coming up, ordered me instantly to go below.

I was obliged to comply, though I longed to remain on deck to see what course events would take. The people below, as soon as they heard that a friend was in sight, cheered over and over again, utterly indifferent to what the Frenchmen might say or do. They did utter not a few sacrés and other strange oaths, but we did not care for them.

The two frigates were, as I said, at the time I went below, close together, with the French ensigns hoisted on the main-stays. The British ship was coming up hand over hand after them. We tried to make out what was going forward by the sounds we heard and the orders given. Our ship was before the wind. Presently a shot was fired to leeward from each frigate, and a lad who had crept up, and looked through one of the ports, reported that the Ville de Milan had hauled her wind on the larboard tack, and that we were still running before it. We all waited listening eagerly for some time, and at last a gun was fired, and a shot struck the side of our ship. Then we knew full well that our deliverance was not far off. The Frenchmen sacré’d and shouted at each other louder than ever. Our boatswain had been left on board with us. He was a daring, dashing fellow.

“Now, my lads, is the time to take the ship from the hands of the Frenchmen!” he exclaimed. “If we delay, night is coming on, and the other frigate may get away. If we win back our own ship, it will allow our friend to go at once in chase of the enemy.”

The words were scarcely out of his mouth when we all, seizing handspikes and boat-stretchers, and indeed anything we could convert into weapons, knocked over the sentry at the main hatchway, and springing on deck, rushed fore and aft, and while the Frenchmen stood at their guns, looking through the ports at their enemy and our friend, we overpowered them. Scarcely one of them made any resistance. In an instant we were on the upper deck, where the officers, seeing that the game was up, cried out that they gave in, and hauled down the French flag.

On this, didn’t we cheer lustily! The ship which had so opportunely come to our rescue was the fifty gun ship Leander, the Honourable John Talbot. Her crew cheered as she came up to us, and her captain asked us if we could hold our own against the Frenchmen without assistance. We replied that we could, and against twice as many Frenchmen to boot. We thought then that we could do anything. He told us we were fine fellows, and ordering us to follow him, he hauled his wind in chase of the Ville de Milan.

We took care to disarm all the Frenchmen; and, you may believe me, we kept a very sharp look-out on them, lest they should attempt to play us the same trick we had just played them.

The Ville de Milan had by this time got some miles away, but the Leander made all sail she could carry, and we had little doubt would soon come up with her. Still we could not help keeping one eye on the two ships, and the other on our prisoners. In little more than an hour after the French flag had been hauled down aboard the Cleopatra, as we hoped, never to fly there again, the Leander, with her guns ready to pour forth her broadside, ranged up alongside the Ville de Milan. The Frenchmen were no cowards, as we had found to be the case, but they naturally didn’t like her looks; and not waiting for her to fire, wisely hauled down their colours. Then once more we cheered, and cheered again, till our voices were hoarse. People have only to consider what the anticipation of a prison must be to British sailors, to remember that we fancied that we had lost our gallant ship, and that we were smarting under a sense of defeat, to understand our joy at finding ourselves once more at liberty. I had a joy far greater than any one, or at least than any one not situated as I was (and perhaps there were some as anxious as I was to return home), of feeling that I had now a far greater chance than had before occurred of once more setting foot on the shores of Old England, and of returning to my beloved wife.

The three ships all hove-to close together, while arrangements were made for our passage to England. The Leander put a prize crew on board the Ville de Milan, strengthened by some of our people, and our gallant captain, Sir Robert Laurie, and his officers once more took possession of their own ship. It was a happy meeting on board the Cleopatra, you may depend on that; and on the first Saturday afterwards, as may be supposed, there was not a mess in which ‘Sweethearts and wives’ was not drunk with right hearty goodwill. Some, and I trust that I was among them, felt that we owed our deliverance to a power greater than that of men, and thanked with grateful hearts Him who had in His mercy delivered us from the hand of our enemies. And oh! my fellow-countrymen, who read this brief account of my early days, I, now an old man, would urge you, when our beloved country is, as soon she may be, beset with foes, burning with hatred and longing for her destruction, that while you bestir yourselves like men and seize your arms for the desperate conflict, you ever turn to the God of battles, the God of your fathers, the God of Israel of old, and with contrite hearts for our many national sins, beseech Him to protect us from wrong, to protect our native land, our pure Protestant faith, our altars, our homes, the beloved ones dwelling there, from injury. Pray to Him—rely on Him—and then surely we need not fear what our enemies may seek to do to us.

Once more, then, we were on our way to England. I did believe that this time I should reach it, I could not fancy that another disappointment was in store for me. The weather, notwithstanding the stormy time of the year, proved moderate, and we made good way on our homeward voyage. While the boats were going backwards and forwards between the ships, I had observed in one of them a man whose countenance bore, I thought, a remarkable resemblance to that of Charles Iffley. Still I could not fancy it was Iffley himself. I asked some of the Leander’s people whether they had a man of that name on board, but they said that they certainly had not, and so I concluded that I must have been mistaken. The man saw me, but he made no sign of recognition, but neither, I felt, would Iffley have done so had he been certain of my identity. Still the countenance I had seen haunted me continually, and I could not help fancying that he was still destined again to work me some evil.

“Land! land ahead!” was sung out one morning, just as breakfast was over. The mess-tables were cleared in a moment, and every one not on duty below was on deck in a moment looking out for the shores we all so longed to see. It was the coast of Cornwall, not far from the Land’s End. Point after point was recognised and welcomed, as, with a fair breeze, we ran up Channel. Then the Eddystone was made, and the wind still favouring us, we at length dropped our anchor close together in Plymouth Sound. I could scarcely believe my senses when I found myself once more in British waters. Oh! how I longed to be able to go on shore and to set off at once for Portsmouth; but, in spite of all my entreaties, I could not obtain leave to go. The captain was very kind, and so was the first lieutenant, but they were anxious to get the ship refitted at once, to be able to get to sea to wipe out the discredit, as they felt it, of having been captured even by so superior a force. All I could do, therefore, was to sit down and write a letter to my wife to tell her of my arrival, and to beg her to send me instantly word of her welfare. I entreated her, on no consideration, to come to meet me; I did not know what accident might occur to her if she attempted to come by land or by sea. Travelling in those days was a very different matter to what it is at present. Even should no accident happen to her, I knew that before she could reach Plymouth I might be ordered off to sea. I felt bitterly that I was not my own master. I did not blame anybody. Who was there to blame? I could only find fault with the system, and complain that such a system was allowed to exist. Fortunate are those who live in happier days, when no man can be pressed against his will, or be compelled to serve for a longer time than he has engaged to do.

The three ships as we lay in the Sound were constantly visited by people from the shore, and the action between the Cleopatra and the Ville de Milan was considered a very gallant affair, and instead of getting blamed, the captain, officers, and crew were highly praised for their conduct. Our captain, Sir Robert Laurie, was presented with a sword of the value of a hundred guineas by the Patriotic Fund, as a compliment to his distinguished bravery, and the skill and perseverance which he exhibited in chasing and bringing the enemy to action. Indeed, we obtained more credit for our action, though we lost our ship, than frequently has been gained by those who have won a victory. The Ville de Milan was added to the British Navy under the name of the Milan, and classed as an eighteen-pounder thirty-eight gun frigate, and Sir Robert Laurie was appointed to command her. Our first lieutenant, Mr William Balfour, was also rewarded by being made a commander.

Day after day passed away, and I did not hear from my wife. Dreadful thoughts oppressed me. I began to fear that she was dead, or that, not hearing from me, or perhaps believing me lost, she had removed from Southsea. Indeed, I cannot describe all the sad thoughts which came into my head, and weighed down my heart. Then the tempter was always suggesting to me, “Why not run and learn all about the matter! What harm is there in deserting? Many a man has done it before. Who will think the worse of you if you do?” But I resisted the temptation, powerful as it was. I had undertaken to serve my country, and to obey those placed in authority over me; and I knew that their reasons were good for not allowing me to go on shore. Still I own it was very, very hard to bear. I had yet a sorer trial in store for me.

Things were done in those days which would not be thought of at the present time. Men were wanted to work the ships which were to fight England’s battles, and men were to be got by every means, fair or foul. Often, indeed, very foul means were used. While we were expecting to be paid off, down came an order to draft us off into other ships. In spite of the bloody battles we had fought, in spite of all we had gone through, our prayers were not heard—we were not even allowed to go on shore; and, without a moment’s warning, I found myself on board the Spartite, 74, commanded by Sir Francis Laforey, and ordered off at once to sea. I had barely time to send a letter on shore to tell my wife what had occurred, and no time to receive one from her. Well, I did think that my heart would break this time; but it did not. I was miserable beyond conception, but still I was buoyed up with the feeling that I had done my duty, and that my miseries, great as they were, would come some day to an end.

We formed one of a large squadron of men-of-war, under Lord Collingwood, engaged in looking out for the French and Spanish fleets. We continually kept the sea cruising off the coast of Spain and Portugal, and occasionally running out into the Atlantic, or sweeping round the Bay of Biscay. From August to September of this memorable year, 1805, we were stationed off Cadiz to watch the enemy’s fleet which had taken shelter there, and in October we were joined by Lord Nelson in his favourite ship the Victory. We all knew pretty well that something would be done, but we little guessed how great was the work in which we were about to engage. The French and Spanish fleets were inside Cadiz harbour, and we wanted to get them out to fight them. This was a difficult matter, for they did not like our looks. That is not surprising, particularly when they knew who we had got to command us. Lord Nelson, however, was not to be defeated in his object. Placing a small squadron inshore, he stationed other ships at convenient distances for signalling, while the main body of the fleet withdrew to a distance of eighteen leagues or so from the land.

The enemy were deceived, and at length, on the 19th and 20th, their whole fleet had got out of the harbour. No sooner was Lord Nelson informed of this, than he stood in with his entire fleet towards them.

At daybreak on the memorable 21st October 1805, the combined French and Spanish fleets were in sight, about twelve miles off, the centre of the enemy’s fleet bearing about east by south of ours. At 6 a.m. we could from the deck see the enemy’s fleet, and, as I afterwards learned, the Victory was at that time about seven leagues distant from Cape Trafalgar. At about 10 a.m. the French Admiral Villeneuve had managed to form his fleet in close order of battle; but owing to the lightness of the wind, some of the ships were to windward and some to leeward of their proper stations—the whole being somewhat in the form of a crescent. We had at an early hour formed into two columns, and bore up towards the enemy. The Victory led the weather division, in which was our ship. We had studden sails alow and aloft; but the wind was so light that we went through the water scarcely more than two knots an hour. I am not about to give an account of the battle of Trafalgar, for that is the celebrated action we were then going to fight. It has been too often well described for me to have any excuse for making the attempt. Indeed, when once it began, even the officers knew very little about the matter, and the men engaged in working the guns knew nothing beyond what they and their actual opponents were about. All I know is, that Lord Nelson was afraid the enemy would try and get back into Cadiz, and in order to prevent him, he resolved to pass through the van of his line.

At 11:40 a.m. Lord Nelson ordered that ever-memorable signal to be made—“England expects that every man will do his duty.”

Nobly, I believe, one and all did their duty; and, oh! may Englishmen never forget that signal in whatever work they may be engaged. It was received with loud cheers throughout the fleet both by officers and men. The Royal Sovereign, Lord Collingwood’s ship, led the lee division, and at ten minutes past noon commenced the action, by passing close under the stern of the Santa Anna, discharging her larboard broadside into her, and her starboard one at the same time into the Fougueux. These two ships fired at her in return, as did the San Leandro ahead, and the San Justo and Indomitable, until other ships came up and engaged them. The action was now general. All that could be seen were wreaths of smoke, masts and spars falling, shattered sails, shot whizzing by, flames bursting out with a tremendous roar of guns, and a constant rattle of musketry; ships closing and firing away at each other, till it appeared impossible that they could remain afloat.

In the afternoon I know that we and the Minotaur bore down on four heavy ships of the combined squadron, which we hotly engaged, and succeeded in cutting off the Spanish Neptuno. She was bravely defended; but in two hours we compelled her to strike her flag, with the loss of her mizzen-mast and fore and main-topmast. No seamen could have fought more bravely than did the Spaniards on this occasion; but their bravery did not avail them. As the spars of the enemy’s ship went tumbling down on deck, and his fire slackened, we one and all burst into loud cheers, which contributed not a little to damp his courage. I forgot my own individuality, my own sorrows and sufferings, in the joy of the crew at large. I felt that a great and glorious victory was almost won—the most important that English valour, with God’s blessing, had ever achieved on the ocean. I felt certain that the victory would be gained by us. My spirits rose. I cheered and cheered away as loudly as the rest. Many of our people had been struck down and carried below, though comparatively few had been killed outright. I saw my messmates wounded; but it never for a moment occurred to me that I should be called on to share their fate. Suddenly, as I was hauling away at my gun, I felt a stunning terrific blow. I tottered and fell I was in no great pain, only horribly sick. The blood left my checks. It seemed to be leaving me altogether. “Carry him below,” I heard some one say. “He’s not dead, is he?” Then I knew that I was badly wounded; I did not know how badly. I was almost senseless as I was conveyed below, where I found myself with a number of my shipmates, who had lately been full of life and activity, strong, hearty men, now lying pale and maimed or writhing in agony. One of the surgeons soon came to me and gave me restoratives, and I then knew where I was, and that my left arm was shattered, and my side wounded. I thought at that time that I had suffered a very great misfortune; but I had reason afterwards to believe that I ought to have been thankful for what had occurred. I said that we were engaged with the Spanish ship the Neptuno. In spite of the hammering we gave her, her people continued to serve her guns with undaunted courage. At length, when we had knocked away her mizzen-mast and main and fore-top masts, and killed and wounded a number of her people, and sent many a shot through her hull, her crew, seeing that numbers of the combined fleet had already succumbed to British valour, hauled down their colours. I heard the cheering shout given by my shipmates, and discovered the cessation of the firing from no longer experiencing the dreadful jar which the guns caused each time they were discharged. As soon as any of our boats could be got into a condition to lower, the prize was taken possession of. I found afterwards that my name was called over to form one of the prize crew; but when it was known that I was wounded, another hand was sent in my place. I had been selected by the first lieutenant, who looked on me as a steady man, and wished to recommend me for promotion. I give an account of what befell the prize as narrated to me by a shipmate.

“You know, Weatherhelm,” said he, when I met him some months afterwards, “that I formed one of the prize crew sent to take possession of her. Before we got her sufficiently into order to be manageable, we fell on board the Téméraire, one of our own squadron. We little thought at that time that our beloved chief was lying in the cockpit of the Victory mortally wounded. He had been struck by the fatal bullet at 1:25, while walking his quarter-deck, and at 4:30 he expired without a groan. Lord Nelson had directed that the fleet with the prize should anchor as soon as the victory was complete; but Lord Collingwood, who now took the command, differed on the subject, and ordered the ships to keep under way, being of opinion that the less injured ships might the better help the crippled ones. Our ship was less injured than most; for we only had our main-topmasts wounded. Our prize, however, was in a very crippled condition. She had lost her fore and mizzen-masts by the board, and as it was late in the afternoon before we took possession of her, after which we had to secure the prisoners and send them on board our ship and the Minotaur, it was nearly night before we could begin putting the ship to rights. We had then in the dark to work away to set up a jury, fore, and mizzen-mast. We laboured all night, and by the morning had them both standing. The morning after that never-to-be-forgotten battle broke dark and lowering, giving every indication of a gale. How little prepared to encounter it were the greater portion of the ships which had been engaged in the desperate struggle! Down came the gale upon us from the westward. Every instant it increased, and very soon our two jury-masts were carried away, leaving us a helpless wreck on the raging waters. The Spanish coast was under our lee, and towards it we were rapidly driving.

“A lee shore, on any occasion, is not a pleasant object of contemplation, but still worse was it for us when we remembered that it was inhabited by our enemies, whose ships we had just so soundly thrashed. We tried to range one of our cables to bring up, but it was useless to trust to it a moment, it had been so much injured by the shot. It soon became evident that if the gale continued, we should drive ashore or go down. Anxiously we looked out to windward, but in the prospect on that side there was very little to cheer us, and still less was there on the other side, where a few miles off only the sea broke on the rock-bound, inhospitable shore. Towards that shore we were rapidly driving. The gale came down on us stronger and stronger. ‘There’s no help for it!’ exclaimed our commanding officer with a deep sigh, for he felt, as we all did, that it was very hard to win a prize and to have helped to win a great victory, and then to lose our prize and perhaps our lives. ‘Up with the helm—keep her dead before the wind!’ he added, going forward with his glass, as did the other officers, looking out for a spot free from rocks into which to run the ship. Evening was coming on, and he saw that it was better to go on shore in the day-time, when we might take advantage of any chance of saving ourselves, instead of at night, when our chance would be small indeed. Orders were given for every man to prepare as best he could to save himself. On we drove towards the shore. We had a large number of prisoners on board. As we approached the land they were all released, the danger pointed out to them, and they were told to try and save themselves, the officers promising that they would try and help them.

“There was little time for preparation. Every moment the gale was increasing. The roar of the surf on the shore was terrific, sadly warning us of the fate of the ship once cast within its power. Even the bravest turned pale as they saw the danger. The Spaniards, bravely as they had fought, tore their hair, shrieked, and called on their saints to help them, but did little to make ready for the coming catastrophe. We, with our axes, tore up the decks, and each man provided himself with a spar or bit of timber on which he might float when washed overboard, as we expected soon to be. Darkness overtook us sooner even than we had calculated. In thick gloom, with a driving rain and a howling wind, the ship was hove in among the breakers. She struck with terrific violence. The sea broke furiously over us. I know little more. I received a blow on my head, I suppose. When I came to myself, I was lying on the beach and unable to move. Then I saw lights approaching, and I found myself lifted up and carried to a cottage, where my head was bound up and food was given me. I found the next day that not ten of the prize crew had escaped, but that of the Spaniards upwards of forty had been washed safely on shore. I was treated kindly, but afterwards carried off to prison. A Spanish prison is one of the last places in which a man would like to take up his abode; and, my dear Weatherhelm, you may believe me, I am right glad to find myself exchanged and once more treading the shores of Old England.” Such was the account my old shipmate gave me; and then I felt, as I have said, that I should be thankful for what had happened to me. To return to my own adventures. Our ship had a long passage home, for in her crippled condition we could carry very little sail. This gave me a longer time to recover before landing. From my abstemious habits, I did not suffer as much as many of my companions in misfortune, several of whom died of their wounds from inflammation setting in, caused by their previous intemperate mode of life.

We at last reached Plymouth, and I was carried to the hospital. I longed to write to my wife, and yet my heart sank within me when I thought that I should have to tell her what a maimed and altered being I was. I fancied that she would not know me, and would look on me with horror. When the surgeon saw me, directly I was carried to the hospital, he bid me cheer up, and said that he thought I should soon be strong enough to move. Scarcely had he left me, when I heard a man groaning heavily in the bed next to mine. The groans ceased. I asked the sufferer what was the matter with him. I was startled when he answered in a voice which I knew at once, “I am dying, and going I know not where, with a thousand sins on my head unrepented of and unforgiven.” It was Iffley who spoke. I was not certain whether he knew me. I answered, “There is forgiveness for the greatest of sinners. Repent. Trust in Christ. His blood will wash away all your sins.” There was no reply for some time. I thought that he had ceased to breathe.

“Who are you who says that?” he exclaimed suddenly; “you think that I do not know you. I knew you from the first, and I believe you know me. Can you forgive one who has injured you so severely—who would have injured you still more had he found the opportunity? Weatherhelm, I ask you, can you forgive me?”

I was silent for some minutes. There was a severe strife in my bosom. I prayed earnestly for God’s Holy Spirit. I uttered the words, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.” I felt that I could reply with sincerity, “Iffley, I do forgive you—from my heart—truly and freely.”

“Then I can believe that God will forgive me,” he cried out with almost a shriek of joy. “Yes, the chaplain here and others have talked to me about it. I could not believe them. I felt that I was far too guilty, and too wretched an outcast; but I am sure that what man can do, God will do. Yes, Weatherhelm, you have given a peace to my heart I never expected to dwell there. Go on, talk to me on that subject. Pray with me. I have no time to talk on any other subject, to tell you of my past career. That matters not. My hours are numbered. Any moment I feel may be my last on earth. Go on, go on.”

I did talk long and earnestly to him, and what I said seemed to increase his comfort. Our conversation was interrupted by a visitor who came round and read and talked to the poor wounded occupants of the wards. He came to my bed. I looked up in his face, and recognised in him my old friend and commander, Captain Tooke. He had left the sea, I found, and having a competence, thus employed himself in visiting hospitals, especially those which contained seamen, and in other works of a labouring Christian. I told him what had occurred between me and Iffley. He sat by the bedside of my former shipmate, and talked, and read to him, and prayed with him. His voice ceased. I saw him bending over Iffley. Slowly he turned round to me. “He is gone,” he said in a low voice. “He placed his hope on One who is ready and able to forgive, and I am sure that he is forgiven.” Captain Tooke promised to write to my wife to break to her the news of my wound. I got rapidly round,—indeed, the doctors said I might venture to move to my home whenever I pleased. Just then business called Captain Tooke to Portsmouth, and he invited me to accompany him. We found a vessel on the point of sailing there. We had a quick and smooth run, and in two days we were put on shore at the Point at the entrance of the harbour. A hackney coach was sent for, and we drove to Southsea. When I got near the house where I had left my uncle and aunt, and where I hoped to find my beloved wife, I felt so faint that I begged to be put down, thinking that the fresh air would revive me. Captain Tooke thought the same, and so, getting out of the carriage, he told me to sit down on a low wall near at hand, while he went on to announce my coming. While there, a little rosy, fair-haired boy ran laughing by, as if trying to escape from some one. I sprang forward, and putting out my hand, he took it and looked up in my face. I cannot describe the tumultuous feelings which came rushing into my bosom when I saw that child. “Who are you, my little fellow? What’s your name?” I asked, with a tremulous voice.

“Willand—Willand Wetherholm,” he answered plainly.

Yes, my feelings had not deceived me. I took him up, he nothing loth, though he looked inquiringly at my empty sleeve. “And your mother, boy, where is she?” I asked, still more agitated.

“In there,” he answered, pointing to our old abode. “She no guess I run away.”

I now went up to the house with the child hanging round my neck. I was blessed indeed. There was my own dear wife, still pale from her anxiety about me, weeping, but it was with joy at seeing me; and there were my kind uncle and dear Aunt Bretta, just as I had always known her.

My tale is ended. I never went to sea again, but in a short time obtained the same employment in which I was engaged when I was pressed. Never after that did I for a moment doubt God’s good providence and loving-kindness to all those who put their trust in Him. He afflicts us for our good. He tries us because He loves us. Reader, whatever may occur, trust in God and in His Son, whose blood can alone wash away all your sins. Love Him, confide in Him, and let your great hope, your chief aim, be to dwell with Him for eternity.

The End.


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