Imatges de pàgina
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CAN'T stand this waiting for father any longer !” exclaimed Jack Carp, the fisherman's son, as from the deck

of his fishing-smack, the Wild-bird, he looked for the P p hundredth time towards the shore, in hopes of seeing a wellknown form in a pea-jacket hurrying down over the shingle.

“ We're losing the finest breeze that ever swelled sail !” cried Ben, his brother.

“We're losing all chance of falling in with the mackerel shoal,” muttered Jack. “There are John Downe, and Will Blacket, they'll be · coming ashore with their craft full of the shiners, and their wives and

children will have fat bacon hanging from their rafters enough to last ’em till Christmas, and plenty of coals to cook it with ; while we'll be starved with hunger and cold !”

“What can keep father?” cried Ben, stamping his bare foot on the deck with impatience.

" I say, Ben, why shouldn't we pull up the anchor, hoist sail, and be off without him?” suggested Jack. “You and me have been long enough aboard this here little craft to know how to manage her, I guess.”

“ I should say we have,” cried Ben proudly. “We ben't just able

bodied seamen yet,” he added with a laugh; “ but for steering a boat, or casting a net, we know as much as the skipper himself.”.

“Wouldn't it be a lark to be off by ourselves!” exclaimed Jack. “Prime,—but father wouldn't like it,” replied Ben.

“But we'd like it !” cried Jack. “ And father will like a good haul of mackerel if we manage to get it. I say, let's pull up the anchor, and be off over the sea, the sea, the open sea !—the blue, the fresh, the ever free!'”—and Jack began whistling a well-known tune as he hurried off to drag up the anchor which kept the Wild-bird riding on the waves not many yards from the shingly beach.

Ben had some scruple of conscience about helping his brother, for he knew that for the two boys to go out to sea by themselves was contrary not only to the wishes, but to the strict command of their father. Ben would never of his own accord have slighted the wishes or broken the command; but he was easily led astray by his bolder and less scrupulous brother, who cared for no will but his own. The two lads were soon pulling and straining every nerve to get up the anchor ; but they, as Ben had observed, were not yet able-bodied seamen, and their young muscles had not the needful strength.

“I say, this will make the matter shorter !” cried Jack, who had paused out of breath from his vain exertions ; and he pulled from his pocket and then opened a large clasp-knife.

“You don't mean to cut the cable! what would father say?" exclaimed Ben. “Why, we should lose both anchor and cable, and I don't believe any haul of fish that we'll get will make up the loss."

“ You mind your own business, my lad; I know what I'm about!”

cried Jack, and he began to cut away at the rope which kept the vessel riding at anchor.

Again Ben yielded, against his better judgment, because his own inclination drew him strongly in the same direction as that of his brother. The cable which held the fishing-smack to its safe moorings was like conscience keeping the soul to duty. Jack and Ben were breaking loose from both : the boys were choosing their own will and way; and a foolish will and a troubled way they were both to find them.

“ There, down under the green water with ye! you'll never more tie us to shore !” exclaimed Jack, as the cable which he had cut through dropped under the brine to lie at the bottom, still held by the faithful anchor.

“Now let's hoist sail and be off,” cried Ben, looking anxiously towards the shore, for he did not now wish to see his father trampling over the shingle.

With some difficulty the boys succeeded in hoisting the sail of the Wild-birdthey had often helped their father to do so. There was no lack of wind; the breeze blew fresh from the shore, and soon filled the sail; and the fishing-smack, much to the delight of her young crew, went dancing over the waves. The way of self-will may seem pleasant at first, but woe, woe to those who have cut the cable of conscience!

“ There's father at last !—I know him by the pea-jacket-he's a clambering down yon cliff,” exclaimed Ben, after the little vessel had gone some way on her course, so that objects on the shore appeared very small to those on her deck.

“ There's father-I hears him!” cried Jack, as a distant “ holloa !” came on the breeze.

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