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For we had one great big sorrow with Jack, our only sonHe'd got into trouble in London, as lots o' the lads ha'
done; Then he'd bolted, his master told us—he was allus what
folks call wild. From the day as I told his mother, her dear face never
smiled. We heerd no more about him, we never knew where he
went, And his mother pined and sickened for the message he
never sent. I had my work to think of; but she had her grief to nurse, So it eat away at her heartstrings, and her health grew
worse and worse, And the night as the Royal Helen went down on yonder
sands, I sat and watched her dyin', holdin' her wasted hands. She moved in her doze a little, then her eyes were opened
wide, And she seemed to be seeking somethin', as she looked
from side to side; Then half to herself she whispered, "Where's Jack, to
say good-bye? It's hard not to see my darlin', and kiss him afore I die!” I was stoopin' to kiss and soothe her, while the tears ran
down my cheek, And my lips were shaped to whisper the words I couldn't
speak, When the door of the room burst open, and my mates
were there outside With the news that the boat was launchin', “You're
wanted !” their leader cried. “You've never refused to go, John; you'll put these
cowards right, There's a dozen of lives, maybe, John, as lie in our bands
to-night!” 'Twas old Ben Brown, the captain ; he'd laughed at the
women's doubt, We'd always been first on the beach, sir, when the boat
was goin' out.
I didn't move, but I pointed to the white face on the
bed— “I can't go, mate," I murmured; “in an hour she may
be dead. I cannot go and leave her to die in the night alone.” As I spoke Ben raised his lantern, and the light on my
wife was thrown; And I saw her eyes fixed strangely with a pleading look
on me, While a trembling finger pointed through the door to the
ragin' sea Then she beckoned me near, and whispered, “Go, and
God's will be done, For every lad on that ship, John, is some poor mother's
Her head was full of the boy, sir—she was thinking,
maybe, some day For lack of a hand to help him, his life might be cast
away. “Go, John, and the Lord watch o'er you! and spare me
to see the light, And bring you safe,” she whispered, “out of the storm
to-night.” Then I turned and kissed her softly, and tried to hide my
tears, And my mates outside when they saw me, sct up three
hearty cheers; But I rubbed my eyes wi' my knuckles, and turned to
old Ben and said, “I'll see her again, maybe, lad, when the sea gives up its
dead.” We launched the boat in the tempest, though death was
the goal in view, And never a one but doubted if the craft could live it
through; But our boat she stood it bravely, and weary, and wet, But just as we come upon her she gave a fearful roll, And went down in the seethin' whirlpool with every
and weak, We drew in hail of the vessel we had dared so much to
livin' soul! We rowed for the spot, and shouted, for all around was
darkBut only the wild wind answered the cries from our
I was strainin' my eyes and watchin', when I thought I
beard a cry,
And I saw past our bows a somethin' on the crest of a
wave dash by; I stretched out my hand to seize it. I dragged it aboard,
and then I stumbled and struck my forrud, and fell like a log on
Ben. I remember a hum of voices, and then I knowed no more Till I came to my senses here, sir,—here in my
home ashore. My forrud was tightly bandaged, and I lay on my little
bed— I'd slipped, so they told me arter, and a rowlock had
struck my head.
Then my mates came in and whispered; they'd heard I
was comin' round, At first I could scarely hear 'em, it seemed like a buzzin'
sound; But as soon as my head got clearer, and accustomed to
hear ’em speak, I kuew as I'd lain like that, sir, for many a long, long
week. I guessed what the lads were hidin', for their poor old
shipmate's sake, I could see by their puzzled faces they'd got some news
to break; So I lifts my head from the pillow, and I says to old
Ben, "Look here-
Not one on 'em ever answered, but presently Ben goes out, And the others slinks away like, and I says, “What's this
about? Why can't they tell me plainly as the poor old wife is
dead?” Than I fell again on the pillows, and I hid my achin' head; I lay like that for a minute, till I heard a voice cry“John, And I thought it must be a vision as my weak eyes gazed
upon ; For there by the bedside, standin' up and well, was my
wife, And who do ye think was with her? Why, Jack, as
Jarge as life!
It was him as I'd saved from drownin' the night as the
lifeboat went To the wreck of the Royal Helen; 'twas that as the vision
meant. They'd brought us ashore together; he'd knelt by his
mother's bed, And the sudden joy had raised her like a miracle from
the dead: And mother and son together had nursed me back to life, And my old eyes woke from darkness to look on my son
and wife, Jack ? He's our right hand now, sir; 'twas Providence
pulled him throughHe's allus the first aboard her when the lifeboat wants a
From “The Lifeboat and other Poems,” by kind permission of the Author.
BARDELL VERSUS PICKWICK.
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
As arranged and read by the Author.
On the morning of the trial of the great action for breach of promise of marriage-Bardell against Pickwick—the
defendant, Mr. Pickwick, being escorted into court, stood
in a state of agitation, and took a glance around him. There were already a pretty large sprinkling of spectators in the gallery, and a numerous muster of gentlemen in wigs in the barristers' seat: who presented, as a body, all that pleasing and extensive variety of nose and whisker for which the bar of England is justly celebrated. Such of the gentlemen as had a brief to carry carried it in as conspicuous a manner as possible, and occasionally scratched their noses with it, to impress it more strongly on the observation of the spectators; other gentlemen, who had no briefs, carried under their arms goodly octavos, with a red label behind, and that under-done-piecrnst-coloured cover which is technically known as “lawcalf.” Others, who had neither briefs nor books, thrust their hands into their pockets, and looked as wise as they could. The whole, to the great wonderment of Mr. Pickwick, were divided into little groups, who were chatting and discussing the news of the day in the most unfeeling manner possible, just as if no trial at all were coming on.
A loud cry of “ Silence !” announced the entrance of the judge, who was most particularly short, and so fat that he seemed all face and waistcoat. He rolled in upon two little turned legs; and, having bobbed to the bar, who bobbed to him, put his little legs underneath his table, and his little three-cornered hat upon it. A sensation was then perceptible in the body of the court; and immediately afterwards, Mrs. Bardell, the plaintiff, supported by Mrs. Cluppins, her bosom friend number one, was led in, in a drooping state. An extra-sized umbrella was then handed in by Mr. Dodson, and a pair of pattens by Mr. Fogg (Dodson and Fogg being the plaintiff's attorneys), each of whom had prepared a sympathizing and melancholy face for the occasion. Mrs. Sanders, bosom friend number two, then appeared, leading in Master Bardell, whom she placed on the floor of the court in front of his hysterical mother,—a commanding position, in which he could not fail to awaken the sympathy of both judge and jury. This was not done without considerable opposition on the