VIE\W OF CALCUITA.
'. i"" -
OLD PLATE'S STORY
WILLIAM' J. FORSTER,
T/e WoJnderful Half-Crownu," Lucy Carl," r Haiy's Rescue,"
WESLEYAN METHODIST SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION,
2 AND 3 LUDGATE CIRCUS BUILDINGS; 2 CASTLE STREET, CITY ROAD, E.C.
I.-COMPASS COTTAGE 5
II.-EARLY DAYS 12
III.-EASTWARD Ho! 21
IV.-To THE BALTIC 31
V.-WESTWARD Ho! 37
VI.-IN THE TROPICS 47
VII.-AMONG THE CELESTIALSS" 56
V 1V ERYBODY in Mellingford knew
Captain Price. At the time of
S our story he had been living there
a good many years, and it would
have been very difficult to find
a youngster in the town who could not readily
have shown a stranger the way to "Compass
Cottage." That was the name the Captain had
bestowed upon his dwelling, and a very appropriate
one too for a retired seaman. It stood by itself
just a little off the main road leading from the
railway station, and though small compared with
most of the other houses in the neighbourhood,
was amply sufficient for all its owner's requirements.
Nearly everything about it was suggestive of a
seafaring life. In addition to the name, a little
above the door of the cottage, was carved the figure
of a Mariner's Compass, and a flag-staff had been
erected in one corner of the garden. This latter
often proved a source of interest and amusement
to the children on their way to or from school, for
when the barometer pointed to "stormy," the
Captain always hoisted the storm-signal as a matter
There was also a battered effigy, having some
faint resemblance to a human figure, which he had
fixed upon the little out-house where he kept what
he called his "ship's stores,"-a miscellaneous
collection indeed. This wooden image had origi-
nally been intended to represent Father Neptune,"
and no doubt at one time was considered a striking
piece of workmanship, but years of service as
figure-head of a vessel had wrought sad havoc with
it. But the Captain would have deeply resented
any suggestion as to its having now become an
eyesore, and generally bestowed a friendly glance
upon it when taking his survey of wind and weather
before breakfast each morning.
Within the cottage everything was kept scrupu-
lously clean. The only inmates were the Captain
and his daughter, for he had long been a widower.
On retiring altogether from active service, he
naturally liked to see around him some tokens of
the many years spent upon the ocean. A couple
of charts hung upon the walls of the little sitting-
room, and there was also a picture of the vessel
in which he had been seaman, mate, and finally
captain. An old-fashioned chest of drawers stood
near the window, and in this piece of furniture
were stored a number of curiosities brought from
Captain Price had been living in Mellingford
about six years when a gentleman named Haslam
came to live at the Priory. He was a partner in
a large shipping firm, and The Nautilus-the vessel
in which Captain Price had served during nearly
the whole of his sea-life-formed part of their
merchant fleet. As soon as they got settled in
their new home, Mr. Haslam called at Compass
Cottage," and invited the Captain to spend the
next evening at the Priory. He did so, and the
young folks were immensely taken with him, for
the Captain had a fund of information respecting
the various countries he had seen in the course of
"You must come and see me at the Cottage,"
said the Captain, as he bid the young Haslams
"Good night." I have some curiosities which
will no doubt interest you."
When shall we come, sir ? asked Reggie, who
was the oldest of the three, and who delighted in
stories of adventure.
"Well," replied the Captain, "I take a longish
walk each morning, if the weather permits, but I
am nearly always at home in the afternoon and
"On Wednesdays and Saturdays we have
a holiday," remarked Florence, a bright girl of
twelve, "and we could come on either of those
days, if convenient."
"Shall we say next Wednesday, then?" said
the Captain, "and meanwhile I'll look out a few
things that may interest you."
This was agreed to; and accordingly, soon
after dinner on the following Wednesday, Reggie,
Florence, and Arthur started off in the direction of
"Compass Cottage." They had no difficulty
whatever in recognizing it, for there was the flag-
staff, visible long before they reached the cottage,
and in honour of their visit the Captain had hoisted
the Union Jack, which he did only on gala occasions.
More than half an hour passed away very pleas-
antly, as the Captain entertained his young friends
with lively descriptions of places he had visited
in the course of his life. The old cabinet was
found to contain interesting mementos of the
various incidents to which he referred, and the
children gazed admiringly upon the pieces of coral,
articles of native manufacture, etc., which were
brought out from their hiding-places during the
afternoon. Reggie inwardly vowed that he would
lose no time in starting a museum on his own
account, and when the Captain left the room for
a few minutes in search of a chart, he mentioned
the idea to the others. Arthur, as usual, warmly
approved of the notion, for it was seldom that he
did not follow his brother's lead. Florence was
not quite so enthusiastic about it, however.
For my part," she said, I think it is a capital
idea when you bring the curiosities from places you
have visited, because then each one has its own
"Of course it's better," admitted Reggie, "but
as it will be a long time before I can visit foreign
countries, I think I shall make a start, anyhow."
Just then Florrie's attention was attracted by
a small mahogany box placed in a slanting position
THE OLD PLATE.
on the top of the eight-day clock which stood in
one corner of the room. She pointed it out to her
brothers, and said: I wonder what that is. It is
put in a curious place."
Captain Price entered the room whilst they all
three stood gazing up at the object named. Ah,"
said he, "you are wondering what is in that box.
I am sure you could not guess rightly; but if you
like, I will unravel the mystery at once."
Saying this, the Captain looked round for his
foot-stool in order to reach the box. The children
watched his movements with increasing curiosity.
Judge of their surprise when the Captain, having
opened it, drew forth an ordinary willow-pattern
plate! He was amused at their evident disappoint-
ment, and especially by Arthur's. involuntary
remark-" Why, it's only a plate "
ONLY A PLATE ? exclaimed the Captain, and
there was a roguish twinkle of the eye as he spoke.
" I can assure you that the plate deserves all the
honour of a case to itself, for it has travelled many
thousands of miles, and has done good service for
more than one generation. If only it could speak,
what a story it would have to tell "
Hearing this, the children looked at the plate
with more respect than they had previously felt for
it, and Reggie inquired if it had been long in the
Oh, yes," was the reply, I took it with me on
my very first voyage, and my father had used it for
many years before handing it over to me. So you
see it is quite an old friend."
The children were silent for a moment or two,
and then Florrie made a suggestion which met with
the hearty concurrence of the others.
"Why should not the plate tell us its story?"
But it can't speak! interrupted Arthur.
"I know that," continued Florrie, 'but the
Captain can speak for it."
A splendid idea," said Reggie, and I do hope
you will be its mouthpiece, Captain."
I don't see any objection," he said, "but I
must overhaul my log and make a few notes. If
you will visit 'Compass Cottage' again next
Wednesday, we will see if the Old Plate can speak
The little folks went off in high spirits at having
thus gained the Captain's assent to their request,
and they discussed the matter, not only on their
way home, but also frequently in the course of the
next few days. It bid fair to be a novel amusement
for all three of them.
N the following Wednesday afternoon,
the young Haslams arrived at
"Compass Cottage" with a punc-
tuality that amused Captain Price,
Sfor the old clock in the corner had
hardly struck the hour when Arthur knocked at
the door. On entering the room, the first thing
which caught their attention was the plate in
whose history they already felt much interest and
curiosity. It no longer occupied its accustomed
position over the clock, but was fixed upon a kind
of small easel, which the Captain during the last
day or two had amused himself rigging up," as
he called it, for this special occasion.
The children thought it was a splendid idea,
and loudly expressed their admiration of the
I thought it would seem more like speaking to
you," he explained, than if it was merely laid in
its box, or put flat upon the table."
In a minute or two, the visitors were comfortably
seated, and the Captain, remarking that he must
now be considered as the mouthpiece of the plate,
began as follows:
I cannot give you the exact date of my birth,
but I have good reason for believing that I am at
least a hundred years old."
Here Arthur burst out into a hearty fit of
laughter, and as soon as he could manage to
THE OLD PLATE.
speak, exclaimed: "How funny it seems to speak
of a plate as having been born "
Hush, Arthur," said Reggie. "Don't you
understand that the plate is speaking just as if it
were alive? "
Oh, yes," he replied, and I'll get used to it
by and by; but it did seem so funny that I really
couldn't help laughing."
The Captain's eyes sparkled, and he evidently
enjoyed the amusement which his opening sentence
had caused. He then proceeded:
My native place is a small village in that part
of England known as The Potteries. We were
a very large family; in fact, I had several hundred
brothers, and so much alike were we, that you
could not have distinguished the least difference
between any of us."
Here there was another hearty. laugh, but this
time it came from all three of the listeners, for
they were immensely tickled at the bare notion of
" a family of plates !
"Yes, there was an imposing number of us,
I can tell you, and you would be surprised if you
knew even some of the trials we had to undergo
before making our bow to the public. I may
explain that we were made of a particular kind of
clay, and what with the grinding, and moulding,
and glazing, and baking, it is no wonder that some
of my brothers soon came to an untimely end.
At length, however, most of us arrived at a
condition in which we were considered fit to go out
into the world and seek our fortunes. The family
soon got separated, some going in one direction,
and some in another. We never all met again "
How pathetic exclaimed Florrie. I could
almost fancy I see a tear trickling down the
"Be quiet!" whispered Reggie. "Let the
plate go on with its story. I am getting very
"Well, I ought perhaps to state that although
England is my native land, my ancestors came
from a far-off country, viz., China, as you may
gather from my looks. The picture which is
stamped upon me is said to represent a Chinese
love-story, more than a thousand years old."
Can you tell us what it is ?" interrupted Florrie.
I am afraid I cannot. You see I am getting
a very old plate now, and my memory is not so
good as it used to be. In fact, I have only a faint
recollection of what happened to me in my younger
days. I seem to remember having been placed
with eleven of my brothers in the window of a fine
shop in some large town, I fancy it was called
Liverpool. We were not there long, however.
A man came in one day, and putting down upon
the counter a small, bright tound thing, which I
afterwards learnt was a piece of money, carried
us away with him, securely packed in a basket.
Shortly afterwards, we were taken on board
a ship, and from that time our existence was a
pretty active one, I can tell you. Three or four
times a day, at least, we were handled by some
of the crew, and really I hardly know what they
would have done without us. They brought most
of us out at each meal, and oh! the washings or
' swabbings-up,' as they called it, we had to endure!
No wonder our faces shone at the end of each
performance of that kind. But, as I said, just
now, my memory is none of the best, so I cannot
tell you much of what happened during the long
years I remained on board that vessel. As time
went on, several of my brothers disappeared, until
at length only four of us remained."
At this point of the story, Reggie happened to
glance at his brother, and was amused at the
serious look upon his face. Arthur had been
listening with the deepest attention, and was
clearly sympathising with the plate in its family
The Captain felt gratified at the success which
was evidently crowning his efforts as the mouth-
piece of the plate, and after a hasty glance at his
"log," again took up the thread of the narrative.
After a while my owner returned to England,
bringing with him my three brothers and myself.
Then followed a change of scene, and a far more
tranquil life. We spent most of our time now
on the shelf of a dresser in a quiet little cottage.
There were several other plates who looked down
upon us with no little contempt, because they
happened to be of a more modern pattern, and
yet they had not a tithe of our experience, never
having been abroad. It was very absurd, of course,
and we took no notice of their conduct, which I am
sure you will agree, was far better than quarrelling."
The idea of plates quarrelling," exclaimed
Arthur, unable to remain silent, as he pictured
to himself a combat of some sort on the kitchen
"The next few years passed away without any-
thing transpiring worthy of note, at least so far as
we four plates were concerned. Then, on a certain
afternoon which I well remember, a terrible accident
occurred. My master had at that time a favourite
dog, a little black terrier, who displayed a particular
aversion to cats. If one only crossed the garden
on its way to or from its home, Fritz was promptly
on its track, and barked long after it was out of
sight. Well, on this particular occasion, the kitchen
door had been left open, and tempted, I suppose,
by a plate of scraps which had been set apart for
Fritz, a strange cat wandered in and began to
enjoy the feast.
Puss had not got far with it, however, when
Fritz came running in. He was furious at seeing
the cat making so free with his dinner, and rushed
headlong towards it. Startled by this unexpected
disturbance, Puss sprang upon the kitchen-dresser,
and in so doing, knocked down my three brothers
from the shelf on which we were placed. They
fell upon the floor, making a great clatter, and
were dashed to pieces. And so, out of the twelve
who had gone forth into the world together, I only
Here Arthur again looked exceedingly sympa-
thetic, and wondered at seeing a smile on the faces
of Reggie and Florrie.
'.' I felt rather lonely as I saw them carrying away
the remains of my three brothers, but it was not
long before others took their places. I always
kept my place, though, at the corner of the shelf,
except when being used, and I really believe that
my master had a special regard for me. No doubt
it was because I had accompanied him on so many
voyages. Almost every dinner-time, I was placed
in front of him, and very proud I felt at being thus
singled out from the others.
As well as I can recollect, it was about a couple
of years after the loss of my brothers that I again
entered upon a much more active kind of life. My
master had a son who had resolved to become a
sailor. He was a youth about seventeen years of
age, and I have reason to know that his father
would have preferred his choosing some other
employment, but the young fellow had long set
his mind upon going to sea. He wanted to visit
other countries, as both his father and grandfather
had done before him. And so at length it was
arranged that he should make a voyage on board
The Nautilus, a merchant vessel, whose captain was
an old friend of my master, and promised to look
well after the youth who had thus set his mind
upon being a sailor.
From the high shelf on the kitchen-dresser
I could see all the preparation for his leaving
home. There was a big box, the very one his
father had used during the last few years of his
seafaring life. I recognized it at once, for my
brothers and myself had travelled many leagues
in it. But judge of my surprise, when I heard
my master exclaim: 'Look here, Ned. Why not
take this plate with you? It is the last of a set
I bought many years ago, and it has done me good
service. Perhaps it will be as useful to you,' and
so saying, he took me down from the shelf, and
handed me to the youth who had nearly finished
packing his chest.
"I was greatly pleased at hearing this, for I
had got rather tired of the hum-drum life we
passed at the cottage, and besides, I fancied the
new plates regarded me a little contemptuously.
As Ned did not say anything for a moment or
two, but looked at me rather doubtfully, I was
afraid he was going to leave me behind. Suddenly,
however, he exclaimed with an amused laugh:
'0 yes, by all means; I'll take the plate. I
should think it knows its way about pretty well
by this time;' and to my relief he carefully packed
me away in a snug corner of the chest.
"A couple of days later, both my new master
and I were aboard the ship which was nearly
ready to leave port. The only drawback to my
satisfaction was the memory of the loss of those
brothers who had been with me on former voyages.
Then came the thought that as it was my young
master's first experience of this kind, whilst I might
fairly be termed 'an old stager,' he was more or
less under my protection, and that seemed, to invest
me with a kind of dignity which a plate does not
very often experience."
This view of things so tickled the youngsters
that they interrupted the speaker by a hearty
burst of laughter.
Fancy being protected by a plate! exclaimed
And why not ? inquired the Captain, turning
towards the speaker. Much smaller things than
plates have been the means of preserving life.
I knew a man who would most certainly have lost
his life had it not been for a coat-button "
Just then, however, the clock struck five, and
the children had to leave, in order to reach home
"May we come again next Wednesday?"
"Certainly," replied the Captain. I will answer
for my old friend here (tapping the plate as he
spoke), that he will be glad to continue his story,
especially to such willing listeners."
All the way home the youngsters discussed the
narrative to which they had just been listening.
I know who he means by the youth that took
the plate," remarked Arthur.
So do I," exclaimed his sister. He means
himself, of course."
And what we hear after this," continued Arthur,
"will be really the story of his own voyages.- How
jolly! especially if he has visited many foreign
countries, and I believe father said that the Captain
had been nearly all over the world. I should think
it was so by his store of curiosities."
"When I looked at the plate, and listened to
what the Captain was saying, I almost fancied
sometimes that it was really the plate talking to
us," said Reggie.
All three children declared it was a capital idea,
that of making the plate tell its own story, and
they looked forward eagerly to the next instalment
of its adventures.
EASTWARD HO !
HE children were as punctual at their
next visit to Compass Cottage," as
They had been on the previous
occasion. The- Captain was quite
ready for them, and so was the plate.
It seemed to Reggie's imagination as if smiling at
him from its position on the easel. He waved his
hand toward it as he took his seat near the table,
and exclaimed: "You were just going to tell us
.about your fresh voyage."
Quite so," remarked the Captain, speaking of
course for the plate. My young master and I
soon got accustomed to our new surroundings, and
our passage through the Bay of Biscay was far more
agreeable than those I had previously experienced.
Of course the vessel rolled and tossed about a little,
but it might have been far more uncomfortable
than it was. Then we skirted the Spanish and
Portuguese coasts, making our first call at Lisbon.
In order to reach it, we had to sail down the River
Tagus for nearly twenty miles, but even at Lisbon,
the river is six miles wide. No doubt you have
read of the terrible earthquake there in the year
1755. The city was nearly destroyed, and a vast
number of the inhabitants perished.
"After leaving that port, we turned our course
eastward, The Nautilus being bound for the
Mediterranean Sea. We passed through the
Straits of Gibraltar, and made a brief call at
the town of that name."
Doesn't Gibraltar belong to England, although
it is in Spain ? asked Florrie.
"Yes, it was taken from the Spaniards by Admiral
Rooke, in 1704. From its commanding position,
it is often called the 'key to the' Mediterranean,'
and a very appropriate name it is." 1
I don't think we should like it, though, if we
were Spaniards," remarked Arthur. "It seems
to me very much as if the French or some other
foreign power held possession of Dover."
Perhaps so," continued the old plate, but you
can hardly expect me to understand all that. Any-
how, Gibraltar is one of the most strongly fortified
EASTWARD HO !
places in the world, and looks like a huge, rugged
mass of rock as you approach it. In due course
we passed the Balearic Isles, which I suppose you
have often noticed on your Map of Europe."
Majorca and Minorca," exclaimed Reggie.
Yes, and there are many smaller islands near
them, some of which are rather dangerous to
vessels. By the way, Minorca once belonged to
the English, but was ceded to Spain in 1802. The
soil is fertile, and a large quantity of oranges and
lemons are cultivated, chiefly for exportation.
"I noticed that by this time my young master
had got pretty well accustomed to his new sur-
roundings. He took his full share of duties with
the other sailors, and as to myself, I liked it far
better than being stuck on the shelf with a lot of
plates that had never travelled more than a few
miles from the place of their birth."
The children smiled at this, but said nothing,
as they were anxious to hear the plate continue the
story of its adventures.
After skirting the Balearic Isles, we shaped our
course towards a couple of larger ones, further
along the Mediterranean. Presently, we arrived
at Corsica, which, although only a short distance
from the coast of Italy, has been in the possession
of the French since the year 1768.
In this island a very famous man was born.
Do any of you remember his name ? "
"I don't," replied Arthur. Nor I," said
Florence, whilst Reggie simply shook his head.
Well, it was Napoleon Buonaparte to whom
I am referring."
Oh," interrupted Reggie, "you mean the first
Emperor of France. I have read a good deal
about him in our school history."
No doubt, for he made a great stir in Europe,
and was the cause of much bloodshed. He was
defeated, you know, in 1815, by the allied armies
of Great Britain and Prussia, and was finally
imprisoned in the island of St. Helena.
"Long before we reached this island we could
see its mountain peaks, capped with snow. As we
got nearer and nearer, it did not present a very
inviting appearance, but I heard my young master,
who went on shore, tell some of his shipmates
afterwards that it contained some very pretty
scenery. He said a great
deal of fruit was being
cultivated in its fertile
valleys, including olives, figs, oranges, and almonds.
I believe the other sailors thought he was poking
fun at them when he mentioned having seen some
curious black sheep on the island, having four horns,
but he was speaking the truth for all that.
EASTWARD HO !
We next came to the Straits of Bonifacio, which
separate the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. By
the way, I nearly came to grief whilst we were
passing through. A squall of wind arose whilst we
were at dinner, and the vessel giving a sudden
lurch, I rolled on the floor of the cabin. My
master got up as quickly as he could to see where
I had got to, and in so doing very nearly planted
his foot on me, but another lurch sent him reeling
on the further side, and so I escaped. You see,
my adventures were not to close just yet.
The squall soon subsided, and we had a quick
and. pleasant run in the direction of the Bay of
Naples, but I must reserve any account of this
famous Bay until your next visit."
The children had now become so interested in
the Old Plate's Story, that they frequently talked
about it amongst themselves between their visits to
" Compass Cottage." One evening, as they sat
chatting together in the library, Reggie suddenly
exclaimed: "I say, Florrie, I've got a capital
Saying this, he rushed to the cupboard, and
brought out a map of Europe, which he had drawn
some months previously, as one of his school
What are you going to do with that ? asked
"Why," said he, I mean to paint a thick red
line showing the voyage which the Old Plate took."
Suiting the action to the word, Reggie opened his
paint-box, mixed a little colour, and then drew
a red streak from the English coast, across the
Bay of Biscay, through the Straits of Gibraltar,
and then along the Mediterranean Sea, up to the
point described in our last chapter.
Capital! exclaimed Florrie. If I were you,
I should take it to show the Captain when it's
finished. I am sure he would be pleased."
Well, perhaps I will," replied her brother,
"but that won't be yet awhile."
On the next occasion, the Old Plate resumed its
story as follows: "It was evening when we ap-
proached the Bay of Naples, and a grand sight it
was, I can assure you. No wonder the Italians
are so proud of this bay. You know they have
a proverb which says, 'See Naples and then die,'
as if there was nothing else to be compared with it
in all the world. The bay itself is surrounded by
mountains, and the city of Naples winds along its
shores. Towering above it stands the famous
"Ah, yes," interrupted Reggie, "that's a volcano.
Did you see an eruption ? "
No, although we quite expected to do so, for
there were loud rumblings, and a good deal of
smoke, but nothing more. After a couple of days
spent in the harbour, we continued our voyage
along the Italian coast, the scenery almost every-
where being delightful. Then we passed through
the Straits of Messina, which separate the main-
land from the island of Sicily."
"Isn't there a volcano in Sicily also?" asked
Yes, but it had long been a very quiet one, and
visitors can safely climb to the very top, from which
they have a magnificent view of the whole island
and the blue waves which surround it. Our course
was now directed to Constantinople, the capital of
Turkey. On our way we passed an almost in-
- -. -
numerable quantity of
islands, some of which
f formerly belonged to
-r England, but now form
part of the kingdom of
Greece. In order to
we sailed across the
Sea of Marmora, and
entering the Bosphorus, anchored in the harbour
known as 'The Golden Horn.'
From the sea, Constantinople appears a most
beautiful city. The houses rise tier above tier,
with spires or minarets, as they are called, on every
hand. Then the cypress trees add greatly to the
picturesqueness of the scene, so that altogether the
place seems like fairy-land. You feel disappointed,
though, on landing, for the streets are dirty,
and crowded with beggars, to say nothing of the
wretched dogs prowling about in all directions."
I think I once heard father say they don't have
shops like ours," remarked Reggie.
"Quite true. They have what are called
bazaar's, many of them not much larger than
cupboards! The merchants sit cross-legged on
the floor, and each trade has its own district. The
chief sight in Constantinople is the Mosque of
St. Sophia, although there are about 300 other
Mosques in that city. The harbour is always
a lively scene, for ships come to it from all parts of
the world, and there is an immense number of
small boats flitting about in every direction.
A short time before our visit, a terrible fire had
broken out in one part of the city. The houses
being chiefly made of wood, the fire spread with
great rapidity, and before its progress could be
arrested, an immense number of dwellings were
destroyed.. I am told that very much better houses
have since been erected in that quarter.
By the by, whilst The Nautilus lay at anchor in
the 'Golden Horn,' my young master had a bit of
an adventure which he did not soon forget."
What was that ? eagerly inquired Reggie.
"Well, it happened in this way. Several of the
crew belonging to The Nautilus, my young master
EASTWARD HO !
amongst them, were having a stroll one evening
through the lower part of the city, when they
suddenly came across a group of Turks engaged
in a very animated conversation. Of course the
English sailors could not understand a word of
what was being said, but they could see that the
men were getting very angry with each other.
Presently, a fight began, and in a short time one
of the group was lying on the ground, and being
savagely treated by some of the others.
This was more than an English sailor could
bear to see without interfering. Quick as thought,
two of them sprang forward, dashed aside the
assailants, and picked the poor fellow up insensible.
Of course the Turks were exceedingly angry at this
action on their part, and one of the group, dis-
appearing for a moment, came back with a posse
of Turkish soldiers. As soon as they arrived at
the spot, they seized the English sailors and
marched them off to prison, carrying with them
the injured man, still.insensible from the treatment
he had received."
But why did they arrest the English sailors ?"
"No doubt the Turk who had fetched the
soldiers accused my young.master and his comrades
of having attacked the man. He did so in order
to punish them for their interference."
Oh, yes, I see," exclaimed Reggie, but do
tell us what happened next."
Not being able to explain matters, and feeling
it would be quite useless to resist, they walked
quietly along, guarded by the soldiers until they
reached a kind of prison. There they found a
Turkish officer who unfortunately scarcely knew
a word of English, but one of the sailors pointed
to the word Nautilus' on his cap, as if to suggest
their sending to the English vessel for information
respecting them. By this time, however, night
had come, and the sailors were locked up until the
It was a very unpleasant position to be in, and
they got but little sleep that night. Early in the
morning, the authorities sent to The Nautilus, and
the Captain, who had been most uneasy at the
absence of his men, hurried back with the messen-
ger. Before he arrived, however, the man had
recovered consciousness, and explained the whole
affair, so the English sailors were promptly released
with many apologies for the unjust treatment they
"Shortly afterwards, The Nautilus made the
homeward voyage, passing along the same route,
and with nothing especially worthy of being
"The day after his arrival at the cottage, the
chest was unpacked, and my former master
laughingly remarked: I see the Old Plate has
come back safe and sound. It must be getting
quite an experienced traveller now "
TO THE BALTIC.
.jt-. EGGIE followed up that idea which
had occurred to him, of marking
on the map of Europe the voyage
*i. of the Old Plate from England to
Constantinople. His brother Arthur
took a good deal of interest in seeing the additions
made to the red line after each of the two last
visits which the children paid to Compass
"Where did the Old Plate go next, I wonder? "
said Florence, as they walked towards the Captain's
house on the following Wednesday.
Ah, that's just what I was wondering,"
remarked Arthur. I guess it was to America."
Well, we shall very soon know, at any rate,"
said Reggie, but wherever it is, I mean to get
a map, and mark the voyage, as I've been doing
Captain Price, as usual, was ready for his young
visitors, and the Old Plate, reclining on its easel,
seemed to be on the look-out for them. The
TO THE BALTIC.
children quickly took their accustomed places, for
they were anxious to hear the continuation of the
story. It was as follows:
"We did not remain very long on shore.
My young master soon had an intimation that
The Nautilus was chartered for the Baltic.
I suppose you know what part of Europe that is?"
"Oh, yes," interrupted Reggie. "The Baltic
Sea is in the North of Europe."
Exactly. Well, our destination was St. Peters-
burg, but we had to call at several places on our
way there. So I was again stowed away in the
old sea-chest, and in due course we sailed through
the Straits of Dover, and entered the North Sea.
Our first call was at Rotterdam, which your
geography will tell you is the chief port of Holland.
In order to reach it we had to sail along the River
Maas, and a busy scene it was, right away from
the North Sea to Rotterdam harbour. Vessels of
almost every size and kind, from all parts of the
world, were either making for that port, or leaving
it. A very large shipping trade is carried on there."
"I suppose you saw some Dutch cheese,"
Plenty, and it formed part of our cargo on the
return voyage. We then made for Amsterdam,
passing through the Zuyder Zee on our way to it."
"That's a Dutch name, evidently," exclaimed
Doubtless. By the way, Amsterdam is situated
on a small arm of the sea, called the Y. Fancy
an estuary or a river being called by a single letter
of the alphabet "
TO THE BALTIC.
Florence thought for a moment, and then said:
" Well, but there are two rivers in England that
sound as if they had only one letter each in their
name, though we write them with more."
And which are they ? asked Captain Price.
"The Dee and the Exe," promptly replied
Good. I had forgotten them for the moment.
Well, my young master thought Amsterdam was
in some respects the strangest place he had yet
visited. It has such a number of canals, dividing
the city into nearly a hundred islands, and so you
may judge what a lot of bridges there are. We
did not remain long in that harbour, however, but
steered northwards, passing through the Skager
Rack and the Cattegat on our way to Copenhagen.
That is on the island of Zealand, and possesses
a very large harbour, but it is not so busy a port as
the two others just mentioned.
"Leaving Copenhagen, we soon entered the
Baltic Sea, and then steering' Nor' East,' as the
sailors say, in due course entered the Gulf of
Finland. During some months of the year, no
vessel could possibly enter that arm of the sea,
owing to the ice which completely covers it. It
breaks up in April, and occasionally the lower
parts of St. Petersburg are flooded in consequence.
It was to that city that our vessel was bound, and
we noticed as we approached it, that the river
Neva branched out in all directions, forming a
large number of islands, and therefore requiring
many bridges. (One of these is shown in our
picture.) I ought, though, just to have mentioned
TO THE BALTIC.
that we had to pass near the celebrated fortress
of Cronstadt, founded by Peter the Great in 1710.
It is, perhaps, the most strongly fortified place in
the world. Huge cannon peeped out from the
batteries, like watch-dogs on the alert.
"Some of the bridges are merely supported by
boats, which can be easily removed; others are
solid, as for instance, Nikolayevski Bridge, a
splendid structure, chiefly in granite.
"What a dreadful name to pronounce, or to
remember," said Florrie.
"Yes, the Russian names of places or people
are far from easy, to a foreigner at any rate.
Many of the words end in ski, but probably our
language appears as difficult to the Russians as
theirs does to us. My young master was greatly
interested in St. Petersburg. The Nautilus re-
mained longer at this port than it did at any
TO THE BALTIC.
of the others, so he had time to make several
excursions in and round the city. One building
specially attracted his notice, viz., the Winter Palace,
which had just been rebuilt after its destruction by
fire. The Emperor resides there occasionally, and
you can judge of its size when I tell you that it
can accommodate five or six thousand persons."
It must be more like a town than a palace,"
"Yes, but it is only when the Emperor stays
there that so many people are lodged within its
walls. Ordinarily there are only about six hundred.
Some travellers say that St. Petersburg might fitly
be called the 'City of Palaces,' there are so
Whilst my young master was in St. Petersburg,
he saw one very sad sight. A batch of prisoners
were being marched off to Siberia, which probably
you know is an exceedingly cold and terrible place,
except for those who are very warmly clad and fed.
Thousands are banished to this northern province
every year, and many of them die before reaching
it, owing to the hardships they endure on the
"One morning, three of the sailors from The
Nautilus climbed up to the gallery of the Admiralty
Spire, where they had a splendid view of the whole
city. My master was one of the party, and met
with an accident which might have proved very
serious. In coming down one of the staircases,
his foot slipped, and away he rolled downwards.
Fortunately, however, after he had gone some
distance, he managed to clutch hold of a corner
TO THE BALTIC.
stone, and thus stopped himself from rolling right
to the bottom. As it was, he got off with a good
shaking, and his companions were greatly relieved
at finding him waiting for them at the foot of the
Returning home, The Nautilus encountered
rough weather in the North Sea, but reached
England without much damage."
On their way home that afternoon, the young
folks discussed, amongst other things, the advan-
tages of being acquainted with foreign languages.
I don't think I could ever learn Russian,"
exclaimed Arthur. French is bad enough, but
those dreadful words ending in ski would puzzle
me awfully !"
In this sage opinion both Reggie and Florence
WESTWARD HO !
IN their next visit to "Compass Cottage,"
Reggie took with him the map of
which I spoke in a previous chapter.
The Captain was greatly pleased
with it, for it showed him that the
young folks were much interested in the voyages
made by the Old Plate.
"Let us see," said the Captain, reflectively,
" I believe our friend here wound up last week by
describing its safe return from the Baltic."
"Yes," promptly replied Florrie, and we have
been guessing in which direction it went next, so
please, Mr. Plate, go on with your story."
Well, the fact is that we did not start off again
for several months, the reason being that my young
master hurt his arm so badly that he was quite
disabled, and unfit for a sailor's duties. So I
resumed my old place on the cottage rack, though
of course I missed my former comrades. I should
probably have felt dull and lonely, only every now
and again, my master took me down and used me
at meal times.
"After a time, however, his arm got all right,
and we prepared for a fresh start. From the
conversation I overheard in the cottage, I found
the next trip Was to be a longer one, and in a larger
vessel. My master came home one evening saying
that he had 'signed articles' with a captain who
was about to cross the Atlantic. A few days after-
wards, I was once more packed away in the old
sea-chest, and was not sorry either.
The voyage across the ocean was a very stormy
one. At times it seemed as if the huge waves
intended to swallow us up, and I believe no one on
board ever expected to see home or friends again.
But the vessel was excellently built, and the sea-
manship proved fully equal to the occasion. After
two days and nights of terrible suspense, the storm
happily abated, and the ship made good headway
towards the American coast. Our first destination
was Quebec, a place of which no doubt you have
heard or read."
Oh, yes," exclaimed Reggie, eagerly. I was
reading about it only the other day. General
Wolfe captured it from the French, and was killed
just at the moment of victory."
Yes, it was a brave struggle on both sides, but
the English army proved victorious, and the result
was that Canada became, an English possession.
But I must hasten on with my story. Quebec
stands on the point of a rocky portion of land
bordering on the great River St. Lawrence. In
order to reach it we passed through the Straits
VIEW OF QUEBEC FROM THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER.
-='- i t
, 4 1 'l ,
which separate Nova Scotia from Newfoundland,
and then crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence, shaped
our course along the river until we reached Quebec.
Very thankful we were to find ourselves safely in
its harbour, after so long and stormy a voyage."
"How many miles had you gone?" asked
"About two thousand, and it was much the
longest voyage that we had ever taken up to that
time. My master was greatly interested in Quebec,
partly no doubt on account of the history of which
Reggie has just reminded us. This is a fortress on
the heights which is said to be the strongest in all
America, and the view from it is magnificent. The
port is a very busy one. Nearly two thousand
vessels visit it in the course of the year, hailing
from all parts of the world.
"I think I must tell you of a rather funny
adventure which befel my master during the time
the vessel remained in the Quebec harbour. Many
of the inhabitants of that part of the country are
of French origin, and only speak that language.
One day he took a ramble away from the town,
and after walking several miles, lost his 'bearings,'
as the sailors call it. It was getting dusk, and he
felt anxious to reach the vessel before night came
on. Presently he met a man trudging along the
road, carrying a bundle slung upon a stick, much
after the fashion of a sailor.
"'Ah,' thought my master, 'now I can ask my
way,' so he hastened up to the man, and began to
tell him the fix into which he had got. But to
his dismay, he found that he could not make him
understand. The man did not know any English,
and he himself could not speak French. So there
was nothing to be done but to make signs, and it
must have been a ludicrous sight to have witnessed
these two men trying to make each other compre-
hend the position of affairs. After several vain
attempts, my master hit upon a plan which
succeeded. You will wonder what it was. Can
you guess ? "
"Not I," exclaimed Florrie. Nor I," said
Reggie, and Arthur shook his head smilingly.
Well, in sheer desperation, he took his walking-
stick, and made upon the ground a rough imitation
of a ship, and the harbour. As soon as he did this,
the man seemed to grasp the idea, for he burst out
laughing, and then nodding his head by way of
showing that he understood at last, pointed out
the quarter in which the harbour lay. They shook
hands, and parted. Hastening in the direction
just pointed out to him, my master soon had the
satisfaction of seeing the fortress right ahead of
him, and reached his ship in time for supper
The children were greatly amused at this story,
and related it to their companions next day at
school. Reggie set to work upon another map on
which to indicate the route next taken by the Old
Plate. His task was not so easy as upon the former
occasion, because it had to embrace both hemi-
spheres, but he felt it would be good exercise, and
so pegged away at it. When completed, he lost
no time in tracing on it the route from Liverpool
WESTWARD HO !
A few days after the visit, Reggie was marking
the Old Plate's course on his map by a thick,
red streak, whilst Florrie and Arthur looked on
I think I can guess where the Old Plate next
went," remarked Florrie, after studying the map
for some little time.
"Where ?" inquired Arthur.
"Why, to the United States," was her reply.
" You'll see on Wednesday if I'm not right."
On reaching the cottage, Florrie said to Mr. Price:
" I think, Captain, I know where the Old Plate is
going to take us this afternoon."
"Ah," said he, smiling, "I see you have been
studying the map."
"Yes," exclaimed Reggie, "and we have been
quite interested in seeing what a number of familiar
names have been given to places on the American
coast. They have a Boston, Portland, York,
Richmond, Portsmouth, and a lot of other English
"Very natural, you know," remarked Captain
Price, seeing that so many English folks went out
as colonists in bygone times, and liked to keep
themselves in memory of their old homes. But
Florrie is quite right, as my old friend here
(pointing to the Plate) is waiting to tell you that
we soon afterwards left Quebec,.and sailed towards
the coast of the United States.
"Passing by Capes Breton, Sable, and Cod,
which names are doubtless familiar to you in your
school lessons, we made for the port of Boston,
named, of course, after a Lincolnshire town. It is
WESTWARD HO !
indeed a splendid haven, and has been the chief
cause of the city's prosperity. Whilst the ship
was in harbour, several of the crew (my master
amongst them) visited the famous Bunker's Hill,
about which you have read in your histories,
connected with the War of Independence. Boston
VIEW OF NEW YORK HARBOUR.
possesses many wharfs and quays, beside upwards
of a dozen bridges, and altogether is a remarkably
fine city, though the climate is none of the best.
There is a splendid Roman Catholic Cathedral,
and a large number of handsome churches.
From Boston we shaped our course towards
WESTWARD HO !
New York, the principal city and chief seaport in
the United States. It occupies the greater part of
an island called Manhattan, at the mouth of the
Hudson River. It was founded by the Dutch
in 1621, and they named it New Amsterdam, after
one of their own cities, but when it came into the
possession of the British, they at once changed
the name to that of New York.
I heard my master say he was surprised at the
great contrast between one part of the city and
another. The older portion has crooked, winding
streets, like some of the English towns, whilst in
the newer part the streets are long, wide, and
straight, most of them running parallel with each
other. New York is connected with the mainland
by huge bridges across the Harlem River, and with
Long Island by a magnificent suspension bridge.
Some of the finest steamers in the world are plying
between New York and the places near it. As to
ships of various kinds, there seems scarcely any
end to them At least seven thousand are regis-
tered as belonging to New York, and thousands of
others enter and leave the harbour in the course
of the year.
From New York we shaped our course southerly,
rounded the peninsula of Florida, and sailing across
the Gulf of Mexico, entered the great river of
Ah, that is one of the largest rivers in all the
world," exclaimed Reggie.
Yes. We sailed about a hundred miles from
the point where it enters the Gulf, until we reached
another port, viz., New Orleans. This city was
originally in the possession of the French, and was
named after Orleans in France. The neighbour-
hood is very flat and unhealthy, many people
dying from yellow fever. Its harbour was crowded
with shipping, and along all the wharves we, saw
huge piles of cotton bales, and thousands of sugar
casks ready to be shipped to Europe."
Were you not glad to get away from that part,
if it is so unhealthy ? asked Florrie.
Oh, yes, indeed we were, for several of the
crew fell ill whilst we remained in that climate,
but happily we had no fatal cases. We took all
possible precaution, and especially avoided eating
too much fruit, though plenty of it was brought on
board by the townsfolk.
On the voyage home, my career very nearly
ended. You will remember that I had previously
met with some very narrow escapes. Some of
these had happened on shore, others whilst I was
at sea. No doubt you have heard that sailors
often declare there is more danger on land than
sea; anyhow accidents may happen anywhere.
The voyage homeward across the Atlantic proved
worse than the one we encountered when outward
bound. We met with a perfect hurricane, and for
several days were in peril almost every moment.
Then we had twelve hours of comparative
calm, for which we were deeply thankful. Whilst
the crew were at table, having a nearer approach
to a regular meal than they had managed to get
for a long time, a sudden squall struck the vessel,
and pitched the sailors about in all directions.
There was a smash amongst the crockery, and
I was sent flying across the cabin. My young
master was stunned for a little while, and when he
recovered himself, set to work with the others to
put things straight a bit.
"The cabin floor was strewed with broken
fragments of crockery, knives, tins, and other
articles. As he could see nothing of me, he
concluded that I had come to grief along with
most of the other things on the table, but some
hours afterwards, he found me safely lying within
a coil of rope. I had fallen upon some canvas,
and thus escaped destruction. He could not help
laughing, though he was badly bruised, for it
seemed as if I came scot free out of every danger.
It was a very narrow escape, I can assure you."
"We are very glad that you did escape,"
remarked Florrie, because we want to hear more
of your travels."
I have often heard of people having 'charmed
lives,' added Reggie, "and I think our little
friend here must have been one of the number."
I think it is quite likely," replied the Captain,
as he took the Old Plate from its stand, and laid it
in the box again.
IN THE TROPICS.
E V ERAL weeks elapsed before Florrie
S and her brothers paid another visit to
Compass Cottage." This was on
ac count of the holidays, during which
period the young folks were at the
sea-side, and very much they enjoyed themselves,
as you may imagine. Captain Price seldom left
home, but he never found time hanging heavily
upon his hands, for there was always something to
be done, either in the cottage, or the garden. At
this season of the year, the Captain used to over-
haul his "ship's stores," as he called them, and when
necessary he gave the out-house a fresh coat
On the first Wednesday afternoon after their
return from the sea-side, the young folks presented
themselves at the Cottage, eager to hear more of
the Old Plate's story. Looking out of the window
which commanded a view of the garden, they
noticed that the Captain had been pretty busy
during their absence.
IN THE TROPICS.
"Why," exclaimed Reggie, pointing in the
direction of the effigy, mentioned in our first
chapter, I declare Father Neptune yonder is
looking younger than ever "
"Ah, Captain," interposed Florrie, you've been
painting it, but I think it was nicer as it was."
Why ? inquired Captain Price, smilingly.
Because it looked as if it had seen plenty of
active service, and knew a good deal about battles
They all laughed merrily over this expression of
opinion, and then settled down to listen once more
to their old friend the Plate.
My next voyage lay in a different direction to
those of which I have previously spoken. Our
vessel was bound for the tropics, but the first part
of the voyage was over old ground, inasmuch as we
sailed through the Mediterranean Sea, and then
along the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. As soon
as we were clear of the Gulf of Aden, we steered
for India, which as you know is one of the chief of
the British possessions."
Oh, yes," chimed in Reggie. We have had
several lessons during last term on India, and I got
quite interested about that peninsula."
"Well, we made straight for the port of Bombay,
which, as Master Reggie will probably remember,
is really an island, rather smaller than the Isle of
Wight. The harbour is a very fine one, providing
splendid accommodation for the shipping. There is
a large population, and a very mixed one, for it
comprises Hindus, Parsees, Musselmans, Jews,
Europeans, and many others. The Hindus, of
GENERAL VIEW OF BOMBAY.
IN THE TROPICS.
course, form the largest part, but there are at least
But what are Parsees ? asked Arthur.
They are descended from the ancient Persians,
and are a much stronger and finer race than the
Hindus. Many of the richest people in Bombay
are Parsees, and their children are often dressed
very handsomely. In matters of religion they are
sun and fire worshippers. As the sun rises or sets,
numbers of them may be seen on the shore at
Bombay, kneeling on rugs, and praying with their
faces turned towards the sun."
What strange people remarked Reggie.
Yes, it seems strange to us, but they are acting
according to their belief, and it is a very ancient
form of worship. Well, to continue our story-An
immense trade is carried on at this port, vessels
coming to Bombay from almost every part of the
world. Whilst our vessel was in the harbour, my
master paid a short visit to the neighboring island
Is that really the name of a place ? inquired
IN THE TROPICS.
"Oh, yes; it takes its name from the huge
figure of an elephant near the landing-place. It
was cut out, ages ago, from the rock. The chief
attraction, however, in the island, is found in three
ancient temples, the pillars and walls of which are
covered with strange Hindu figures. There are also
caves and grottoes of a very fantastic description.
On leaving Bombay, we sailed through the
Arabian Sea, taking a southerly direction, until we
skirted what is termed the Malabar coast. To
our right lay a group of islands, known as the
Did you visit them ? asked Arthur, remem-
bering that he had seen them marked in his atlas.
No; partly because they were too distant from
the course we were taking, and partly because they
are chiefly of coral formation, surrounded by deep
water, and somewhat dangerous of approach.
Besides, there was really nothing in the way of
business to take us there. We were bound next
for Colombo. On our way to the island of Ceylon
we had an adventure which I must relate on your
Soon after the young folks reached home that
afternoon, Arthur set to work drawing a map on
a larger scale than those, he had previously done,
as he wished to include the Mediterranean Sea,
Gulf of Suez, Red Sea, Hindostan, Ceylon, the
Indian Ocean, and several other places.
Arthur took the map with him on his next visit
to Compass Cottage," having previously marked
upon it the course described. As soon as the
young folks had taken their places, Florrie reminded
IN THE TROPICS.
the Captain of his promise to relate the adventure
which befel the Old Plate and its master during the
voyage in question.
"Ah, yes, to be sure," said he. "You must
know, then, that we were in the Indian Ocean,
and making good progress too, when all at once
the sky became clouded over to such a degree that
the sun almost disappeared, though it was after-
WATERSPOUTS AT SEA.
noon, and at least an hour before sunset. With
scarcely any warning a terrific thunderstorm burst
upon us. It was of short duration, however, for to
our relief, most of the dark clouds rolled away as
quickly as they had gathered. But the danger
was not past. Right ahead of us we saw a couple
IN THE TROPICS.
"What are they?" in-
"They are a kind of
tornado or whirlwind at sea,
and resemble huge columns
of irregular shape, uniting
the clouds and the ocean."
Are they very danger-
ous ? said Florrie.
"Yes, for they could
discharge a vast quantity
of water upon anything
which might happen to
come to close quarters with
them, and knowing this,
some of the crew fired
at them with the small
cannon which we had on
board our vessel. This
caused one of them to
disperse, and the other
passed rapidly by us at
some distance, and was
presently lost to sight
The children had been
listening to this with the
deepest interest, and at
this point of the narrative
Arthur struck in with the
remark: Oh, dear, I
shouldn't at all like being
a sailor "
IN THE TROPICS.
Well," remarked his brother, "I rather think
I should. At any rate, I should like to visit
foreign countries, even if we did meet with an
adventure now and again."
Our course was now shaped for the island of
Ceylon, which, as you know, lies to the south-east
of India. It is really a beautiful island, and very
fertile. In olden times, Galle (or Point de Galle)
was the chief town. You may judge how ancient
a place it is, when I tell you that it was a town of
importance more than two thousand years ago.
Merchants from Arabia used to visit it, coming of
course from the West, whilst traders from China
and the remote East also visited it.
Colombo, however, is now the chief port in
this island, and that was our next calling place.
Fifty years ago, a considerable part of Ceylon
was quite unknown, for the centre of the island
consisted chiefly, of an immense forest, in which
herds of elephants, bears, and tigers roamed about
undisturbed by man. Great changes have taken
place, however, and most of the soil is now under
cultivation. Coffee plantations are very numerous,
and provide employment for many of the natives.
But there is another feature of interest
connected with this island. About twelve miles
from the shore is the celebrated pearl-fishery.
At certain seasons of the year, vast crowds of
people, from many countries, and speaking many
languages, crowd to this spot in the eager search
for pearls. You know, of course, that the pearls
are obtained by diving for them. Each diver
makes about fifty plunges a day, and brings up on
IN THE TROPICS.
an average a hundred shells. Sometimes ten or
a dozen pearls are found in one shell, and the
value of the Ceylon pearl-fishery reaches many
thousands of pounds yearly. The occupation of
a diver is by no means a healthy one, and it is
attended by considerable danger, for sharks abound
in those parts, and numerous lives are sacrificed
during each pearl-fishery season.
Another production for which Ceylon is famous
is cinnamon. It is the inner bark of a tree which
is found chiefly in Ceylon, but also in China and
South America. The outer bark is first scraped
off, and then the inner bark is peeled off with
a knife. The pieces are dried in the sun until
they curl up into little rolls, and then they are
packed into bundles for market. Neither the
leaves nor the flowers of the cinnamon tree give
forth any smell. It is only when the season arrives
for gathering the bark that the perfume is notice-
able. A walk through the cinnamon gardens
during the busy season is most interesting and
pleasant. Everywhere in the month of May
groups of cinnamon peelers are to be seen peeling
off the bark from the twigs. The largest of the
cinnamon gardens in Ceylon is one near Colombo,
and covers seventeen thousand acres of land.
Cinnamon is cultivated in other countries, but the
best comes from Ceylon.
Leaving Ceylon, we passed through the Gulf
of Manaar and the Palk Straits. This brought us
into the Bay of Bengal, and after skirting the
Coromandel coast for many miles, we entered the
mouth of the river on which Calcutta is situated."
AMONG THE CELESTIALSS."
(" R old friend here was just beginning
4 to tell us something about Calcutta
when we broke up last week,"
S remarked Florrie, as the young
folks gathered round the table at
"Compass Cottage." Saying this she gave the
Old Plate a gentle tap by way of encouraging it to
continue its story.
"Yes, I remember. We did not stay very long
at that seaport. Though it now has so large
a number of inhabitants, Calcutta is by no means
an ancient place. Its history, however, is an
eventful one, and I dare say you have all read of
a terrible circumstance which occurred there about
a hundred and fifty years ago."
"I think I know what you mean,'" interrupted
Reggie; "it's about the Black Hole of Calcutta,
isn't it ?"
Yes. In 1756, the town was suddenly besieged
by the Nawaub of Bengal, a powerful and unscrupu-
AMONG THE CELESTIALS."
lous Indian prince. He captured one hundred
and forty-six men, and gave orders for them to be
thrust into a cell about twenty feet square, and
kept there all night. Their sufferings from heat
and thirst were so terrible, that in the morning
only twenty-three of them were found to be
How dreadful! remarked Florrie.
"It was indeed. The city has been greatly
improved of late years, but many of the native
houses are still built chiefly of bamboo and mud,
so that when a cyclone occurs, great numbers of
them are quickly destroyed.
Leaving India, we shaped our course towards
the Celestial Empire."
"Celestial, Empire!" exclaimed Reggie. "I
thought celestial meant heavenly."
So it does, really; but this term is frequently
used to denote China, partly because they claim
that their first Emperors were celestial deities, and
partly because they consider their nation to be the
most highly favoured by Heaven. They regard all
foreigners with the utmost disdain, and invariably
speak of us as 'barbarians,' or even as 'foreign
Before reaching that part of the world, however,
we made calls at two other places. The first was
at Rangoon, in Burmah. It was taken possession
of by the British forces in 1824. Only a small
portion of the inhabitants are Christians, the
others being Mohammedans, Hindus, or Burmese.
There are numbers of pagodas, or heathen temples,
one of which is said to have been built 2,300 years
AMONG THE CELESTIALS."
ago. It is of immense size, and is considered to
be the most holy place in Burmah.
Next, passing through the Straits of Malacca,
we called at Singapore, a strongly fortified place
guarding the trade to China. It belongs to Great
Britain, and is a very busy commercial centre.
From there we sailed in the direction of Canton.
In due course we arrived at Hong Kong, an island
at the mouth of the Canton river. It has belonged
to the British nation since 1841. Victoria is the
chief town, and has a very mixed population.
On entering Canton, one seems to have come
to a different world altogether. The buildings
and the inhabitants present the greatest possible
contrast to those of Europe. Most of the streets
are crooked, and each trade has its own distinctive
quarter. Queer signs hang from every house,
giving a singular appearance to the whole place.
Their joss-houses, or heathen temples, abound on
every side. You will, I am sure, be interested in
hearing of an incident which came under my
master's notice whilst at Canton.
One day, in company with three of his sea-
mates, he was walking along a street in the
suburbs, when all at once they came to an open
space near a curious looking building, and a group
of people attracted their attention. Going up to
the spot they saw a child sitting on the steps
leading to a pool of water. The child was crying
bitterly, and an animated discussion was being
carried on by some half-dozen men standing around.
They were speaking loudly, and gesticulating in an
A CHINESE- FOUNDLING,
AMONG THE CELESTIALSS."
Although the English sailors could not under-
stand the language, they could see that it was
a boy by the pigtail which hung down behind him,
and it was also evident that he was lost, or
purposely abandoned by his parents. In a little
while an old man came along. He looked like a
professor of some kind, and the men respectfully
made way for him. He seemed at once interested
in the case, and after questioning the child, gave
him in charge to one of the men, and he marched
off with the little fellow, who by this time had
ceased crying, and appeared to be comforted."
"I wonder where they were taking him to,"
said Arthur. Have they any'Children's Homes'
Reggie laughed at the idea, and exclaimed:
" I should think not, indeed. They are too
uncivilised a nation for that."
"Master Reggie is mistaken for once," continued
the Old Plate. They have refuges for children in
some places, but they are only for boys. Girls are
considered to be of little or no importance by the
What a shame interposed Florrie.
"Yes, and there is much cruelty resulting from
the ignorance and superstition which prevail in
that vast Empire. If the Gospel could be made
known throughout China, it would bring about
a glorious reformation. Many brave and devoted
missionaries are labouring for this end, but their
task is fraught with much danger."
I -IE Old Plate having by this time
related the adventures it had ex-
Sperienced in various parts of the
world, felt that its story must now
end. The young folks had been
deeply interested in all they had heard, and
declared that so famous a traveller fully deserved
the honour which the Captain had conferred upon
it by furnishing it with a special box in which it
might repose from its labours. Their knowledge
of geography had been greatly increased, and they
no longer regarded that branch of study as a
tiresome one, in spite of the many names of places
which had to be stored up in the memory.
Captain Price was so pleased with the maps
which Reggie had drawn by way of illustrating the
voyages described in our previous chapters, that he
readily accepted them as a little memento of the
pleasant talks they had enjoyed together, and
placed them carefully in a little portfolio, along
with some charts and other papers relating to his
"How glad I am," exclaimed Florrie, "that
I suggested the Old Plate should tell us its story.
I am sure there are not many that have gone so
far, and have had such narrow escapes "
I fancy it feels a bit proud of itself," interposed
Arthur. I know I should, if I had gone through
The Captain smiled at hearing these remarks.
"Well," said he, "I am very glad you have all
been interested in the story. Of course, there are
many other places which I and my little friend
here (tapping the plate) have visited together;
but you have now got some idea of our voyages,
north, south, east, and west. After all, you know,
the chief thing is to do our duty faithfully, and try
to render as much service as possible to others.
This 'common plate,' as Master Arthur called
it some months ago, has proved of good service
to me on very many occasions, and it would
be strange if I did not regard it as an old
"Yes, indeed," said Reggie; "I think it might
have had a motto engraved upon it-Faithful and
True. I should much like to visit some of those
countries which it has described, and perhaps
I may do so when I grow older. Anyhow, I like
Geography much more than I did, thanks entirely
to the Old Plate."
And I was thinking," interposed Florrie, that
we ought to be thankful for the privileges we enjoy
in our own country. What a contrast, for instance,
between China and England "
"At our Band of Hope Meeting the other
night," remarked Arthur, "we sang a hymn
"Our country has a mighty name,
Great 'mid the nations she;
Her sons shine in the roll of fame-
Her laws are liberty.
Her arms are carried by the brave;
Her ships on every sea
Still bear above the crested wave,
The standard of the free."
"Yes," said the Captain, "God has greatly
blessed our native land, and we must try to prove
our gratitude to Him, by making the best use of
all His gifts. A selfish life is not only a useless life,
but it is displeasing to Him. We must remember
that one day we shall have to give an account of
the use we have made of all our blessings."
The children soon afterwards took their leave,
but it was not by any means their last visit to
"Compass Cottage," and whenever they entered the
room, now so familiar to them, they were sure to
give a friendly glance at the box which occupied its
accustomed place over the clock in the corner.
FLETCHER AND SON, PRINTERS, NORWICH.
BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
A NARROW ESCAPE.
WITH STEADY AIM.
UNDER THE JUNIPER TREE.
THE- KNIGHT'S MOVE.
NEW FABLES FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.
THE WONDERFUL HALF-CROWN.
WITHIN THY GATES.
THE LITTLE FOLKS AT KELVERTON
TWELVE FAMOUS BOYS.
WITH SWORD AND SHIELD.
A LITTLE HERO.
IN SOLOMON'S PORCH.
THE YOUNG CONSPIRATORS.
PITCH AND TOSS.
TWELVE BIBLE CHILDREN.
WESLEYAN METHODIST SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION,
2 & 3 LUDGATE CIRCUS BUILDINGS, E.C.