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THE OLD SHIpe
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THE OLD SHIP
BETTER THAN STRENGTH.
H. A. FORDE,
AUTHOR OF "MY NEW SUIT," ETC.
WILLIAM WELLS GARDNER,
THE OLD SHIP;
BETTER THAN STRENGTH.
A ship could such a restless thing
Afford them place of rest ? "
Here will I taste the blessings of content,
No hope shall flatter and no fear torment.
Unlike the sea, the sport of every wind,
And rich with wrecks, the ruin of mankind.
My life an honest humble praise shall claim,
As the small stream, scarce honoured with a name,
Whose gladdening waters through my garden play,
Give a few flowers to smell, then glide away."
T stood on the roadside, just without the
village of Twainbrook. It was no old
t / vessel, as you might suppose, but only
1 an ordinary roomy house, which not so very
long ago had been a public-house, rejoicing
in the title of the "Old Ship." The sea
roared and sparkled many a long mile from Twain-
brook; but still, that was the Portsmouth high-
2 THE OLD SHIP.
road which passed through the village, and many
a hearty-voiced sailor journeying up to London by
the mail-coach had greeted the swinging old sign
But those days were past; railroads had swept
away coaches and half-way houses; weary travellers
no longer needed refreshing, and the old landlord
had gone to his rest.
Lord Sunningdale, who owned much property in
the neighbourhood, determined to shut up the "Old
Ship;" at least, as far as its use as an inn was con-
cerned. There was the Sunningdale Arms in the
village, and that was enough. He was a man who
thought much of the welfare of his tenants and de-
pendants, and one of his conclusions was that public-
houses fostered idleness and drinking habits among
the poor; so in the villages where he held sway he
reduced the number to one. It created, therefore, a
considerable stir among the inhabitants of Twain-
brook when one autumn day the "Old Ship" sud-
denly woke to life; doors and windows stood open,
sounds of hammering proceeded from within, while
outside a ladder planted against the house supported
a man who, amidst much advice and encouragement
from comrades below, was occupied in lowering and
removing the old sign.
What was going to happen? A rumour that the
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 3
house was to be renovated and opened again under
a grand new sign had no effect, save to alarm for a
while the landlord of the Sunningdale Arms." But
he soon recovered, and treated it as an idle tale:
his lordship was not a man to change his plans or
his ideas in this sudden manner. No; there must
be some other explanation of the doings at the
"Old Ship." And then it was whispered that the
house was indeed to be repaired and put jin order,
but this time as a private dwelling, since Lord
Sunningdale had let the place to a certain retired
merchant-captain and his numerous family.
Twainbrook was not pleased at the intelligence
It was a very quiet little place, and the idea of a red-
faced sea-captain invading it with a troop of noisy,
riotous children at his heels, made the inhabitants
quake. There were twelve of these youngsters,
people said; and already Miss Lenox, the gentle
sister of the Rector, saw in imagination the 'marks
of boys' hob-nailed boots all over her pretty lawn;
Miss Travers, "the oldest resident in the place," as
she told every one, had the locksmith in to put a lock
on her garden-gate, and arrange a bell to communi-
cate with the house.
"One is best on one's guard, dear," she said to
Miss Lenox-, as if a troop of Cossacks were in the
4 THE OLD SHIP.
Every one who visited Myrtle Cottage found the
new bell arrangement a very tiresome one, except
Mary Jane, Miss Travers' little maid, who enjoyed
flying down the dozen yards of garden to open the
gate to a visitor in the blustering autumn wind. She
was young, and anything like a scamper was pleasant
Why a sea-captain must necessarily be loud-spoken
and red-faced no one knew, but every one accepted
the description as correct; and even Sir Richard
Vaughan agreed with his keeper that fences should
be strengthened, and a look-out kept lest the new-
comers should scare the game he so carefully pre-
The Vaughan estate faced the "Old Ship," and
furnished a green and pleasant prospect to those
front windows, for Sir Richard had no objection to
passers-by on the highroad catching a glimpse of
his smooth park-land, with the river Lene winding
through it, so long as they let him alone. Liberal
as he was, however, in these respects, boys and sea-
captains rather disturbed him too.
Ten boys were there said to be, Fraser?" he
observed to his Scotch keeper, and then sauntered
off with an expression on his face by no means
Sir Richard was a widower with one little girl.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 5
He was much abroad, seeking health resorts for
little Lilla, and frequently spending no more of his
time at Twainbrook than the shooting season; so
after all, this influx at the "Old Ship did not much
matter to him. He supposed Lord Sunningdale
had put in some humble friend of his own, who
would associate with the better class of farmers,
and in no way affect him, so long as Fraser did his
And then came a fresh report, on the very best
authority. Some one said that the new-comer was a
Dutchman, by name Katteran. Already the village
saw the squat, satisfied, square-faced sea-captain
calling for his schnaps, growing nothing but tulips in
his garden, and followed by a tribe of squat, square-
Miss Lenox shook her head; Miss Travers said
"Terrible! terrible!" and Sir Richard enjoyed a mild
joke with the Rector over his newly-expected parish-
I confess, I am sorry about it all," said the old
man; "we are quiet folk at Twainbrook, and want
no changes; but if we were to have a new family
planted in our midst, I would have liked it to be that
of some pleasant English gentleman. His lordship
must do as he likes, however; and there is some tale
afloat of this sea-captain having saved his life by
6 THE OLD SHIP.
jumping overboard after him in some foreign har-
bour; so the 'Old Ship' is to be his at a nominal
And then Dr. Lenox and Sir Richard parted, the
one musing peacefully among his autumn flowers, the
other making his way home to his child and his
There were several paths leading through the
Vaughan plantations from Twainbrook village to the
House, but Sir Richard chose none of them; they
were too damp and sheltered for his warmth-loving
nature; instead he kept to the highroad, coming in
consequence very shortly in sight of the "Old
"Meinheer will be comfortable enough here if he
chooses," thought Sir Richard; "things seem pro-
gressing. I suppose he will be coming in person
before very long."
A house in process of building or repairing has
generally charms for an idle man; and Sir Richard,
seeing a tenant of his own busy putting some final
touches to a shutter, drew nearer, and asked when
the Captain was expected.
"Next week, sir," said the man, touching his cap.
"We've made a very nice job of the place, Sir
Richard, as I think you'll say if you'll step in and look
round. I'm sure the young gentleman won't object."
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 7
Sir Richard thought he must have mistaken the
latter part of the sentence, since the sea-captain with
a family could not be such a very young gentleman;
but he passed over that, and accepted the invitation
to enter. It would be amusing to see the "Old
Ship" in a new dress.
It had, indeed, been most cleverly transformed.
Bar and bar-parlour were gone, and instead a long,
pleasant room stretched the whole depth of the house,
making a famous dining or living room for a large
family, and looking already warm and cosy with its
crimson drucret and curtains. Across the hall front-
ing the garden was a smaller room, fitted up as a
There was one other sitting-room to be inspected.
It faced the highroad, and was evidently destined for
a library or study. But Sir Richard was attracted by
something else than the furniture in this apartment.
One side of it was completely lined with shelves half
filled with books, while the floor was covered with
cases evidently containing the rest of the library.
Bookworm as he was, however, he turned from these
to a step-ladder, whereon sat a girl of fifteen busily
arranging an empty shelf. She heard his footstep,
but did not turn round; she only said, Oh, Hans
dear, I am getting so tired; do stay and hand me up
the books, if you can spare the time."
8 THE OLD SHIP.
Sir Richard was puzzled and distressed. He had
evidently intruded on one of the family, for, despite
the plain dress of the girl, her carefully-arranged hair,
her general aspect, and, above all, the refined tones
of her voice, proclaimed her a lady-most probably
one of the Captain's children.
The slight pause puzzled the girl ; she turned round
and saw Sir Richard.
"Is it, can it be Miss ?" Sir Richard stum-
bled over the name.
"I am Avis Katteran," said the girl simply. I
thought you were my brother Hans."
And then she came down from the ladder and re-
ceived Sir Richard's excuses so quietly, that he felt
at ease directly.
My hands are too dusty for you to touch," she
said. Hans and I are here to prepare things for the
rest. Father is not strong, you know; and there are
the little ones to be looked after. Do you live near,
do you say ? That will be pleasant for my father;
he likes neighbours. Oh, here is Hans! now it is all
It was a tall, broad-shouldered lad of sixteen or
more, who came in; his light blue eyes looking some-
what astonished out of his round young face.
But Avis smiled at him. "It is Sir Richard
Vaughan, dear," she said; "our nearest neighbour."
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 9
And Hans put out another dusty hand to the
Sir Richard stayed some little time at the "Old
Ship" that evening, and walked home greatly influ-
enced in the sea-captain's favour by the two specimens
of his young people.
"The children will be pleasant friends for Lilla," he
thought. "They are well brought up, one can see,
whatever the father may be."
( o1 )
Patience sat by him, in an angel's garb,
And held out a full bowl of rich content,
Of which he largely quaffed."
> T was not long before all Twainbrook
( knew the exact extent of Captain
Katteran's family, and were able to
exchange guesses for truth.
Just as dusk was falling on the village one
evening, an omnibus drove past the "Sun-
ningdale Arms," across the Ardor Bridge, and past
Mary Jane at Miss Travers' gate, up the gentle ascent
towards the Old Ship." Outside it was laden with
boxes; inside, apparently, with children. Fair, fresh-
looking little creatures, most of them, judging from
the heads thrust out to look at the surroundings of
the new home. But where was the sea-captain, the
hearty, somewhat vulgar-looking personage, who
would doubtless swing down hand-over-hand from the
top of the omnibus ? There was no one who answered
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. I
to the description; two sturdy boys did, indeed, make
short work of that very descent, rushing eagerly after-
wards to the omnibus door to lift out the impatient
younger ones: but that done, they did not stir from
their places, but waited while an old nurse handed to
them a sleeping baby, transferred at once most
tenderly to Avis's ready arms; a strange bit of
machinery, half crutch, half camp-stool; a pillow
or two; and, finally, helped out a pale, exhausted-
looking man, of middle age-their father, Captain
There was no mother in this household; after a
long period of invalidism she had died at the birth of
the last little one.
Hans was ready by this time with strong arms and
a pleased smile, but few words; father would be too
tired to answer them.
Gently-another step," he said softly, grasping
the slightly-made figure as it wearily descended from
the omnibus. "We have not far to go," he added
cheerily; "the dining-room sofa is close to the
And he and his brother Carroll, between them, led
their father in at the open door, to the brightly-lighted
dining-room, with its well-spread table and cosy rest-
ing-place for the sick man.
"See to the little ones now," he gasped. Then,
12 THE OLD SHIP.
with a smile to reassure them, "I am all right, and
Avis is here."
Could it indeed be the boisterous, blustering cap-
tain, that Twainbrook had expected, who lay so pale
and exhausted, on the sofa at the Ship," unable
either by word or deed to help in his own flitting ?
It was, alas! too true. A strain of the back, proceed-
ing. from extraordinary exertion during a gale at sea,
had brought the once active sailor to this state of
painful weakness. "Actual disease there was little,"
said the doctors; "but he would never again be fit
Only Hans and Avis, who knew the state of affairs,
guessed that the dear, patient father, could never be
well-never utterly free from suffering; and that they
must be his loving, fond nurses all the days God
should grant him on earth.
Avis was very quiet, very self-contained, but Hans
was her dear friend and brother, and to him she wept
out her one bitter remonstrance against this state of
things. Father was still so young to be weak and
helpless for life!"
"But he has what is better than strength, Avis,"
returned the boy. "Think how good he is! how
patient, how happy, when he is not suffering! how
ready still to help every one! Surely those things
count for more than mere bodily health!"
BETTER THAN STRENGTH 13
The new arrivals seemed to open all hearts, they
were so different to the barbarians foolishly appre-
hended. Miss Travers even instructed Mary Jane not
to lock the gate, since she had seen the Captain one
morning stroll as far as her cottage, and had not
been able to find the key to beg him to come in and
"And he looked so tired!" she told the sympathis-
ing maid, leaning on the tallest of the boys. We
must never let him pass again."
"And please, ma'am," said Mary Jane, delighted
to give her willing young tongue a little occupation,
"they do say he has a sofa in every room, and a slop-
ing seat in the garden."
Now mind you must be on the watch, he must
rest here on the way. I cannot go to the gate myself,
because I have not yet called on Miss Katteran.
Miss Simpkin is too tiresome in not letting me have
my best bonnet."
"Oh, there he is!" cried Mary Jane excitedly;
"just on the slope, between the two young gentle-
Miss Travers vanished into the house, sorely against
her real wishes; but Mary Jane stood smiling and
curtseying at the gate, young, and bright, and sym-
My mistress hopes you will step in and rest, sir!"
14 THE OLD SHIP.
she exclaimed, pointing to the garden-bench close to
And Captain Katteran, more weary than usual,
was glad to accept the invitation.
"You are very kind; please thank your mis-
"And what is her name ?" asked Lisle.
Miss Travers, and this is Myrtle Cottage," said
Mary Jane. "And you are never to pass without
resting, sir. I've my orders !"
And Mary Jane glanced at the blind, behind which
she was sure Miss Travers was seated.
"She can't call this gossiping," thought the
little maid, who knew her own shortcomings. Miss
Travers did not call it gossip, but she felt very im-
patient for Mary Jane to come in and tell her all
But Mary Jane was in no such hurry, she was only
too delighted to stay and point out to the visitors all
the landmarks within sight of the tiny garden, the
church, the rectory, the Ardor, and Ardor Bridge,
the schools and the blacksmith's forge. The little
maid had lived in Twainbrook all her life, and knew
every stick and stone of it. Father and mother had
a cottage down there, she pointed out, and there her
eight brothers and sisters had been born. All gone
out in the world, I daresay," said the Captain plea-
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 15
santly; he could always interest himself in the
interests of those around him.
"They're all buried, sir, but only me," said little
Mary Jane composedly; "they don't rear children
well down in the lower village."
Mary Jane was apparently satisfied with this his-
torical fact in Twainbrook annals. She had been the
youngest of the family, and had felt no pang at the
loss of the babies, but Captain Katteran, further
sighted, put the matter down on his mental tablets
for future consideration. Why should not babies be
reared in the lower village ?
( 16 )
"It was not the seaweed's heavy mass,
Which clogged the billows' swell,
Not only wood of rifted wreck
That floated on so well.
It was a child, a little girl
Of some three years or more.
"Down to the fisher's lowly cot,
The busy neighbours came,
'If you take in that friendless child,
I think you'll be to blame.'
You know,' another kindly said,
You have already four,
And though you're decent, honest folks,
Still you are reckoned poor.'
"<'' And we are poor, and very poor,
I know,' said Margaret,
'But God can show my husband where
To cast his fishing net.'
Sewell's Homely Ballads.
END my frock, nurse! I want to go out
yr in the garden."
S"I cannot now, Miss Queenie; I'm
looking for Miss Marie's frills. This pack-
ing and unpacking does so upset one! And
you should say'please,' too; you must give
up that ugly way of ordering."
"I can't wait till you've done with Marie; I must
BE TTER THAN STRENGTH. 17
go out. Marie can have her frills after; only do,
do mend my frock "
And there was at once a bright little face, haggard
with impatience, in the "Old Ship" nursery; small
hands trembling, and small feet dancing, all to get
a strong will gratified.
"Oh, but I can't go down to breakfast without
my frills," said Marie somewhat plaintively; "and
nurse was helping me first."
Yes, but I ought to come first," rejoined
Queenie; and you know that, Marie!" she added
I don't know-I'm not sure," said steady Marie,
as if considering; "I'm eleven, and you are only
"Eleven and nine are nothing, you naughty,
bad Marie! when you know--you know-you
And all at once an explosion of wrath burst on
the quiet nursery; two hands had to be held, a little
face was distorted with rage; and Avis, hearing the
commotion, came in to the rescue. She looked
neither surprised nor alarmed at the passionate
gestures of little Queenie; she simply drew the
quivering child away from the rest, and with a
little gesture of command, signed to Marie to go
downstairs, and waited for peace.
18 THE OLD SHIP.
It came in a while, with utter exhaustion. The
excitable child sobbed and screamed herself into
silence, and then was easily carried off into Avis's
bedroom, and laid on her bed till Avis had finished
Marie stole in a few minutes later, looking grieved.
"Sister, I never meant to vex her so," she said,
gazing sorrowfully at Queenie's pale face on the
"No, dear, it can't be helped," answered Avis a
"And I've mended her frock," said patient
Marie; "see, here it is. If I'd thought she wanted
it so very badly I'd have waited for the frill; but
you know, sister, you said we weren't to encourage
her in that;" and the child's voice dropped to a
"No, it is best not, certainly," returned Avis; but
oh it is difficult to know what to do."
She makes herself ill when she cries and stamps,"
said gentle Marie. "I wish she wouldn't." Then
her voice changed as the dark head turned on the
pillow; "Queenie, dear, shall I dress you? Here
is your frock, all mended; I did it. Are you
Queenie looked round, then hid her face in the
BETTER THAN STRENGTH 19
"Go away!" she said; "I stamped at you, and
I am afraid you won't love me any more; do go
The coals of fire burnt the little girl, and Marie
had only meant they should warm her.
Go down to breakfast, dear," said Avis quietly,
"and leave us; or" (her voice dropped so as not
to reach the dark head buried in the pillow) send
The slow, measured tread of approaching footsteps
roused little Queenie at last; she sat up on the bed,
turning a tear-stained face and outstretched hands to
"I've been naughty again," she sobbed; I always
am. What shall I do, Hans? what shall I do ?"
And the poor, passionate child was all woe and
repentance in a moment.
"Do as I bid you," said Hans gently; "first, let
me dress you." And the big fingers buttoned little
buttons, tied strange strings, and smoothed rough
elf-locks, with all the cleverness of a woman, Avis
handing the things, but standing aloof.
"Now your prayers," said Hans quietly; and
Queenie began with a sob-
"Pray, God, forgive me my naughtiness !"- but
Hans stopped her.
"Not yet-thanks first," said the lad. And the
20 THE OLD SHIP.
little girl began her morning prayer of praise and
thanksgiving for sleep and preservation in the
darkness, her voice growing more and more
cheerful as she finished with her usual morning
Now the little prayer," whispered Hans; and the
child repeated gravely, but without tears, the prayer
she had taught herself for pardon for outbursts of
And now to kiss Marie," declared Queenie, much
Marie was at breakfast with the rest. There was
no notice taken of the entrance of Queenie and the
elder ones; only Toto, as little Thomasina was called,
murmured, "Good now? as the dark head and the
fair one met, and Queenie made her peace with her
little companion. It was a state of affairs too well
known among the Katterans to excite much re-
It was Queenie only, poor Queenie who had privi-
leges and troubles beyond the rest, who had thus
disturbed their pleasant daily life.
But who was this Queenie? and how had she
found her way, the dark-eyed, passionate creature,
among the calm, fair children of the Dutch cap-
She was not one of them evidently. The seven
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 21
were all present, and they bore not the least likeness
to this excitable creature, all laughter and life one
minute, all storms and anguish the next.
It was the old tale of the man with the large flock
caring for the one little creature lost in the wilder-
ness. Queenie had been literally a waif on the
ocean, rescued by Captain Katteran now seven years
In one of his voyages he had seen, one stormy
daybreak, the spars of a wreck floating around his
ship, a wreck which had doubtless taken place during
the night; and as light made matters plainer to the
crew of the "Queen of the East" (for so Captain
Katteran's vessel was called), it was rumoured that a
sailor was lashed to one of the largest of the floating
planks-a sailor with something in his arms.
To lower a boat and haste to the rescue was Captain
Katteran's instant command, and ten minutes after
he lifted on deck the body of a little girl; the sailor
was dead, but the child lashed to him was still breath-
ing, and might be coaxed back to life. There was
no lack of nurses ready to attempt that,-rough
nurses, perhaps, but kind. Mrs. Katteran was not
with her husband on this voyage, she had been left
behind with an ailing little one in England; but the
sailors took. the babe, laid it in hot blankets, fed it
with warm gruel, and behaved as children do over a
22 THE OLD SHIP.
sick kitten, who at last opens its eyes and frolics
before their delighted gaze.
The little one opened her very dark eyes on her
rough preservers; it was evidently no little English
maiden: Spanish more likely, the wreck of the lost
vessel bearing tokens of Spanish workmanship. But
make what inquiries he would, Captain Katteran
could never identify the vessel nor find a clue to the
country or parentage of the babe. The sailors
wanted a name for the pretty little creature, so they
called her Queenie," after their own vessel, a name
destined to work much woe with the fanciful little
soul in after years. But then it seemed most applic-
able; no real queen could have had humbler, more
obedient courtiers, than this small creature on the high
seas; from captain to cabin-boy, all were ready to do
her will. She had the best of everything in the ship,
and day by day waxed fairer, and more intelligent.
Her baby petulance, even, was matter of admira-
tion to the rough seamen. "Every inch a queen! "
they pronounced this child of the ocean, when she
stamped her little foot and demanded by gesture,
and in unknown, broken language, some withheld
and coveted treasure.
What to do with her when they gained port was a
matter of deep consideration with Captain Katteran.
He was not a rich man ; ought he to accept this extra
BE TTER THAN S STRENGTH. *23
strain on his somewhat limited means ? Was it fair
to his own children ? He could not decide the
matter alone, he determined to refer it to his wife;
and meantime Queenie's soft, dark head lay on his
breast, and the coaxing arms were round his neck.
He could not have torn them away then.
When Captain Katteran landed, a corner seemed
vacated for the homeless babe; God had taken to
Himself, only one fortnight before, the little sickly
girl he left pining in her mother's arms-possibly
just about the time that he had stretched out fatherly
hands to rescue Queenie.
So the new babe was taken in and welcomed with-
out question. And Queenie it still remained, the
name suiting it well; besides, the one little garment
found on it being marked Marie," the confusion of
names with the elder Marie would have been trouble-
The pretty nickname would have been speedily
banished had either Captain or Mrs. Katteran guessed
the mischief that it would foster in the breast of the
little foundling. Not for some years, however, did
they discover that foolish attendants had suggested
to the little girl that she might possibly be of noble
birth in her own country; and the idea took such
firm hold of the young Southerner, that she soon
demanded from her companions a precedence which
24 THE OLD SHIP.
would have been simply amusing, or at least ridi-
culous, had it not been persisted in with tears and
In vain Captain Katteran told her the story of her
being lifted, cold and almost naked, from the arms
of a common sailor that gusty grey morning. He
was not my father," little Queenie would answer, her
dark eyes flashing; my father was a great man, and
I am called Queenie."
"After my ship, Queen of the East,' little one,"
returned Captain Katteran. "Old Sam, my steward,
gave you that name."
"Because he guessed it was my right one," stoutly
declared the child. Then, with a burst of pitiful
longing, she would ask, Shall you ever find him,
my own father? Will you ask the great lords in
Spain if they have lost a little girl ?"
Poor little soul! it was difficult to know how to
treat a child with such strange longings for courts,
and high places, and authority. Gentle-minded
Marie was terribly puzzled by her little com-
panion. Nurse quite gave her up as beyond her
management, and Avis could only attempt to soothe
Captain Katteran and Hans had most influence
over the wilful, fanciful waif. Hans especially, if
present, could stay an outbreak of passion, and
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 25
Queenie had a tenderness for her "English father"
that brought her instantly to repentance on a word
from him. But they could not both be always in the
nursery or garden watching over their troublesome
More than once Captain Katteran had been advised
to send the child to some superior orphanage or
"Queenie is no fit subject for a school or orphan-
age," truly said Captain Katteran; "she needs the
tenderest care and watchfulness. What she will crrow
into God alone knows ; but I feel that she is a trust
given to us in the place of baby Lilian."
So the household all had patience with their
strange darling, even little Thomasina saying, "Poor
Queenie !" when screams and dancing feet announced
a naughty fit. For between these sad times came
such seasons of love and gentle feeling on the part
of poor Queenie towards her benefactors as could
not but touch all hearts. It seemed as if her whole
wayward soul had gone out towards them. She
would watch, like a faithful dog, the opportunity of
carrying Captain Katteran his crutch, handing Avis
her work materials, or doing some little service to
Hans as he sat engrossed with his books. And once,
in the days when Captain Katteran was most seriously
ill, the child had risen from her bed in the dead of
26 THE OLD SHIP.
night and wandered to his bedside-whether sleeping
or waking, his nurses hardly knew-but persistently
demanding to see "father" for one moment. "My
father that I love, not my father in Spain," the little
somnambulist had murmured. But still the possible
father in Spain occupied that busy brain too much
for her peace, and was frequently the cause of discus-
sion with the other children, matter-of-fact Marie
asserting that Queenie had no reason to suppose him
to be such a grand man, and Ralph and Carroll mak-
ing open fun of Princess Queenie. At last the young
Katterans were forbidden to talk on the subject alto-
She will grow wiser in time, please God," said
Captain Katteran, when he laid this injunction on
his children. "And meantime, my boys and girls,"
he added, glancing at Marie, "be gentle with her.
She.tries you, I know, at times; but she is a loving-
hearted little creature, and never means to vex
"But she thinks her own father is grander and
greater than you," declared Ralph, and I don't like
Captain Katteran smiled on the little lad. "My
foolish Ralph, as if that mattered! Would you
change me for a lord, or even a king ?"
"I should think not!" said the boy, lifting proud
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 27
and loving eyes to his father; "but it doesn't seem
fair that she should think herself a king's daughter
and us all common children."
"That is Queenie's silly fancy," pursued the Cap-
tain lightly; then growing grave, "But, Ralph, my
boy, and all of you, remember you are all king's
children-children of the Great King. Yes, our poor
Queenie, too; and you must try to behave as He
would have you do, fitting yourself day by day
more nearly to dwell with Him in His courts in
"Ah, next I think
Upon the merchant-captain stout of heart
To dare and to endure.
We pray you set your pride
In its proper place, and never be ashamed
Of any honest calling."
ATHER, why were you not in the royal
"Father, aren't there lots of real gentle-
men in the merchant service ?"
"Father, which service shall you put me
into when I'm big enough ? "
"The royal navy, of course."
There were three speakers-Lisle was the first
and the last, Carroll and Ralph had been the other
questioners. It was evening, just that time when the
fire is poked to burn brightly, and the lamps do not
come in quite quickly enough for busy Avis, who is
forced to take to her knitting by firelight. Captain
Katteran was lying on the sofa listening to the
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 29
chatter of the boys, while little Toto leant against
him and played with his watch-chain.
"One at a time," he said, smiling; "and I shall
answer you backwards," he added. "As far as I see
now, Ralph, I mean to put you in the royal navy."
"Hurrah!" shouted Ralph, he didn't quite know
There!" said Lisle, somewhat defiantly to
"But as to there being real gentlemen in the
merchant service as well as the royal navy, I think
you know about as much of that as I do. You know
Captain Johnson and others, eh-Lisle boy ?"
Lisle blushed. Of course, father, you are a real
gentleman, anyhow; but the merchant service isn't
thought quite so much of as the royal navy: is it
now ? Carroll says it is just as good."
"No, I didn't" began Carroll, but his father
Don't split straws, lads," he said; you all mean
the same thing. As far as trust and responsibility
go the merchant captain has as much on his mind
as the captain in the royal navy, and is as much to
be honoured if he does his duty as the other; but as
the world goes Her Majesty's Navy will always hold
the highest place, and her officers take precedence
30 THE OLD SHIP.
That's why I wanted you to be in the royal
navy," grumbled Lisle;" and Carroll said it didn't
matter a button."
"No more it does; does it, father ? Lisle thinks
people would think more of you if you were an R.N.;
but they couldn't, could they? because our friends-
yours, I mean-like you for yourself, and would do
anything for you."
Captain Katteran smiled, not at Carroll, but at
"Is it Gentleman-Lisle worrying himself again?"
he asked gently; "isn't the poor, old, broken-down
merchant-captain grand enough to be his father?
Has little Queenie infected you, my lad?" he
added, as Lisle, his colour deepening, hacked away
at the pencil he was mending by the firelight.
Little Ralph flung his arms round his father's
knees, a silent protest against the closing words.
At last Lisle spoke. "You know I'm not so silly
as Queenie, father," he said; "but still I can't help
wishing you had been in the other service. I think,"
he said with an effort, "you are too good for the
"Too worn-out for either," said Captain Katteran, a
little wearily; then catching Avis's sorrowful glance,
he said smilingly, But there, lads, poke the fire, and
sit up straight, and let me tell you how I came to be
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 31
a captain in the merchant service. One of you take
Toto first; she is a trifle too heavy for me, the little
Carroll lifted his little sister on to his knee (the
boys were very gentle and loving with the motherless
babe), and Captain Katteran went on-
"I was never intended for the sea at all," he said;
"we were steady business people, we Katterans,
meant for high stools and figures and the like, and
my father gave me a thorough education for such a
life, and then showed me my seat in the office, which
I kept just six months, till I fell ill of fever. I sup-
pose I never had much of a constitution, and then
the doctors prescribed sea bathing, and sent me
away from town. After a time I went back to my
work, but a return of weakness, from want of fresh
air, led me to suggest to my father that I should
take to the sea as a profession. He didn't quite
fancy it-he was a little like you, Lisle, thought the
Katterans ought to have the best of everything-
and I was too old for the royal navy, but I felt
sure I should always be ill if kept to office-
work, so I persevered, and entered the mer-
chant service; where I have not done so badly,
my boy, nor altogether failed to make good
"No, I know," said Lisle, relieved to hear the
32 THE OLD SHIP.
whole story. "Lord Sunningdale says you are the
pattern of a man."
"So you are taking to flattering me, now boy; are
you ?" said his father.
Truth isn't flattery," said Carroll, and Ralph laid
his curly head on his father's hand.
These healthy lads were as tender and loving as
girls over the sick father. However they might differ
among themselves, they were one in their love and
admiration for him; even Lisle, with his foolish
shame of his father's honest profession. However
far these lads might stray in after-life from the path
of rectitude, that father would always be a magnet to
draw them back.
"Father, how did you save Lord Sunningdale?"
asked Ralph. "I heard him say the day he told us
of this house, You must accept something from me,
Captain Katteran, because I owe my very life to you.'
How did you do it ? Marie says he fell overboard,
and you picked him up."
"Marie is right," said the captain. He was quite
a young man then, and for some reason he took his
passage on board my vessel to the East, instead of
going by the regular line of passenger-ships. He
was a pleasant young fellow, and we were very soon
friends. How well I remember that day! the sea
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 33
was like a lake, so calm and still, and it wanted an
hour to sunset."
"It was nothing for you, father, then, to jump
overboard in such a sea," interrupted Carroll, a
little disappointed. "I hardly call it risking your
Hush !" said Avis gently, holding up a knitting-
"Don't hurry me, boy," said his father; "there is
plenty more to tell, as Avis knows. Well, imagine
the scene, sunset in the Indian Ocean, a sea like glass,
every one on deck resting after the heat of the day,
and half the crew leaning over the bulwarks on one
side of the ship watching the "
"Porpoises," cried Ralph, who had been reading
sea-stories; "people going out to India always do
watch porpoises tumbling about."
"Certainly not porpoises, Ralph, but sharks," said
Ralph sat up straight, his blue eyes distended, his
mouth wide open.
"Yes, sharks, boy. The purser had got some raw
meat fastened to a line, and was dodging the creatures
with it as we do the kitten with a cork. It was horrid
to see them turn over and make a dash at the bait, but
it amused the idlers. There were two sharks follow-
ing us closely, and more at a little distance. I looked
34 THE OLD SHIP.
on awhile, and then I remember warning a cabin-boy
off a dangerous post of observation: he was astride
the bulwarks, and a push from a passer-by might
have sent him into the sea. 'And the sharks would
make no more of you than of a bit of raw meat,' I
said, and walked away.
"( I had not turned my back on the group many
seconds before I heard a splash and a cry, no-not
one cry, but the wail of many voices. I thought the
little lad had fallen off his perch, and in a second I
had my boots and coat off, and jumped overboard
where the disturbed water showed he had sunk. I
forgot the sharks-everything save the cry of Man
0 father!" gasped Ralph, tightly holding his hand
to make sure he was there.
Hush! Ralph, don't !" cried the others. "Go on,
"I can't tell you all very distinctly, I only know
I had my hand on Lord Sunningdale's collar the
moment he rose to the surface; and all would
have been well but for our dreadful neighbours,
since he could swim a little, and I was quite equal
to guiding him towards the ship till further help
"(Happily, on deck my men kept their self-posses-
sion; I believe every available bit of meat in the ship
y mw:. r
HE WA NOTFOUN TILLIMID IGHT
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 35
was thrown overboard in a contrary direction to where
we were swimming, to allure the creatures away from
us, and meantime a boat was lowered by some, while
others threw anything heavy and noisy they could
catch hold of between us and the two sharks. It was
a terrible five minutes, boys, before help reached us;
since, though they might ward off the two sharks
they knew of, there might be twenty more close by,
any one of which might drag us under water and
make a meal of us, despite the best efforts on our
"But they didn't ?" said Ralph.
"No, boy, here I am to tell the tale; and Lord
Sunningdale is safe, too, as you know. I never saw
such a set of white faces as my men had as they
dragged us into the boat, nor have I ever had my
hand wrung as it was when I reached the deck with
my companion. The men pressed forward,, some
sobbing, some laughing, from the sheer revulsion of
feeling, many saying earnestly, 'Thank God! thank
"What did the cabin-boy say?" asked Ralph.
"Funny little lad !" said Captain Katteran; "the
moment I jumped overboard he ran and hid himself,
and was not found till midnight, between two coils of
rope, on deck; he had sobbed himself to sleep. The
sailor who dragged him out said he woke screaming
36 THE OLD SHIP.
and asked, 'Was the captain drowned ?' He fancied
himself to blame somehow, and I own it was a sur-
prise to me when I found Lord Sunningdale's face rise
close to me instead of the little cabin-boy's; I had
made up my mind it was the child who had fallen
"Father, that was a real adventure," said Ralph.
"I don't wonder Lord Sunningdale says he owes his
life to you."
"He is one of those who never forget a
benefit," said Captain Katteran; he is always
offering kindnesses to me, and this house at an
easy rent was so tempting a proposal that I could
not but accept it. The name, too, made it seem so
"Yes, the 'Old Ship,'" mused Ralph. It is an
awfully jolly name, and it is an awfully jolly house.
I say, Marie and Queenie," as those two little girls
came in from preparing the morrow's lessons, "where
have you been? you've missed all the fun and the
"Stories, has father been telling stories ?" ques-
tioned Queenie impatiently, the colour mounting into
her cheeks; oh, that is too bad. You ought to have
called me, Ralph, you know."
"When you told me to go out of the library, and
not to dare to speak one word to you till tea time.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 37
And you had your fingers in your ears, too," replied
But I always want to hear father's stories," pro-
tested poor Queenie with half a sob, "and I'm so
unlucky, I often miss them."
The wrangle gave promise of dissolving into
tears, and Marie, the little peacemaker, hastened to
"Father's stories are endless," she pronounced,
as she drew Queenie into the firelight, "he knows
plenty more. What was the one you were telling
just now, father dear? "
"About his saving Lord Sunningdale's life," shouted
Ralph. "I like that sort, though it seems to stop my
"Father saved another person's life, too, once be-
fore when he was a little boy," said Marie; do you
mind telling that story, father dear?" she asked,
kneeling at her father's feet. I don't think Queenie
or Ralph have heard it."
Captain Katteran smiled.
"You children will make a hero of me," he de-
clared; "well, let it be so. And now where must
I begin ?"
"At the very beginning, father," pleaded Queenie,
"and make a real story, if you please, as I missed the
38 THE OLD SHIP.
So the kind father began.
"I was a tall, thin lad in my teens, just promoted
to a stool in the office where my father was junior
partner, when a long season of trouble fell on our
family party. Mother had a bad illness, little baby
Mina died, and finally Fred, my younger brother,
and I added to the general distress by taking scarlet
fever very severely. Fred soon picked up again after
the sharp month of fever, but I grew thinner and
paler; and yet, as the doctor said I was not likely
to give others my late complaint, I returned to my
stool and my pen. Not for long, however; my first
day in the office was my last for a good while. Mr.
Scarsdell, our middle partner (the firm was Bullion,
Scarsdell, and Katteran), happening to pass by,
noticed my wretched looks, and ordered me off
work instantly. 'Katteran,' he said to my father,
'that lad wants a change; send him down to Eastport
to-morrow. For a month, mind you-not less. My
children are there, and little Miss Bullion, so I know
it is a famous place.'
"The good-natured gentleman then hurried off,
to avoid any thanks. It was not my turn for a
holiday, and, but for Mr. Scarsdell's kindness, such
a treat as this could never have been thought of
for me. As it was, all the family rejoiced with me,
and my mother declared I must go down properly
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 39
equipped-and so a smart pea-jacket and tarpaulin
hat shortly arrived.
Never was such a happy lad as I, when I steamed
off one splendid summer's day, stowed in a corner of
the train bound for Eastport; except one delightful
week at Margate, I had never been at the seaside in
"'I'll give you a half-crown for your first haul, my
boy,' said father, laughing as he saw my preparations
for securing the treasures of the deep.
"'Give you five shillings for a big fish,' said
kind Mr. Scarsdell, who had hurried down with a
parcel of toys and cakes, which I was to take to
"I laughed and blushed.
"At Eastport a lodging had been taken for me
with a good old soul who had three sons on the high
seas, and another in the Coast-guard of the place.
Nothing could be more delightful; she coddled
and petted me in the house, and promised me all
sorts of delightful fishing and sailing expeditions
outside. 'Her Jim, when he was off duty, took a
many gentlemen out fishing, and he should take
"My first duty, however, was to take the parcel
to Marina Terrace, where six little Scarsdells and
golden-haired Miss Bullion were planted in charge
40 THE OLD SHIP.
of an old nurse, a lively nursery-maid, and a short-
sighted but conscientious governess. Two of the
children, Maggie Scarsdell and her bosom-friend
Miss Bullion of the golden locks, were hanging
over the balcony; they knew me, and they knew
the parcel, and there was a rush downstairs, during
which I heard the plaintive voice of Miss Wrinkle
imploring them to be ladylike.
"But Eastport air evidently had the same life-
giving effect on them as it had on me, and they
were a good deal more like wild colts than young
ladies under a strict governess.
"Well, Ralph, what now? I thought it was
only Queenie who interrupted my stories with
"Yes, father, but this is so very important, and
I must whisper it, please, please. Wasn't our own
dear mother's name Scarsdell before she married
The whisper was not a very low one, and the
younger children looked eagerly for the answer.
"Your own dear mother's name was Margaret
Scarsdell when I married her," returned the Cap-
tain. "Now, let me go on. I am telling a
story about some quite little children to-day;
and Queenie says it is to be a real story like
one reads in books.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 41
"'We're going out in a boat this afternoon, Will,'
said my friend, Miss Maggie.
"' And so am I,' said I, smiling back at the little
"And then Miss Wrinkle's voice was heard again,
and the two children vanished indoors.
Coast-guard Jim had a large party of gentlemen
to take out that afternoon, and being a modest
youth, I allowed him to settle them well to their
work before teazing him to bait my hook; so I had
time to look about me.
"Being a fresh, almost chilly afternoon, I had my
new pea-jacket on, and, of course, my shiny hat.
The sea was what you might call lively-waves
'dashing about as if at play ; and the bay was alive
with small craft of all sorts, from the great snorting
steamer to the tiny pleasure-boat. After a strict search
round I discerned a little rowing boat, with a large
party on board-four of the Scarsdells, Miss Wrinkle,
Miss Bullion, and two little schoolboy cousins of the
latter; Miss Maggie shook her handkerchief at me,
and I answered with a great waving of my arm.
I did not know these little people very intimately,
but when one is at the seaside acquaintances are
easily made. And besides I had a right to be
friendly with the children of the firm; the eldest
girl especially exciting my admiration by her cheer-
42 THE OLD SHIP.
ful happy face and loving care of the little ones, and
her friend Miss Bullion."
"I thought you said she was like a wild colt,
father? put in Queenie.
"And can't people be wild sometimes, and yet
be fond of and good to the babies?" asked the
Captain, smiling; for his foster child at that mo-
ment had her arms twined round the little one of
Queenie laughed, "You mean me," she said, "but I
don't mean to be wild, and I do love Toto."
"And my little Maggie didn't mean to be wild,
and I don't think she was really wild," resumed the
Captain, "but she had thick brown hair, and a
funny way of shaking it back, like a Shetland pony,
which made me always think of a colt when I saw
I liked watching the party, and did not care how
long it might be before Jim was ready to attend to
"The pleasure-boat came nearer and nearer to our
fishing party, and at last I could hear the shrill
voices of the little ones. Maggie and Miss Bullion
had their arms round each other's necks, of course;
and Miss Bullion's golden hair was blowing round
Maggie's hat, to their great amusement.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 43
"I could not take my eyes off them. All at once,
something seemed to strike my eyelids-at least I
can explain the sensation in no other way; so great
was the shock to me when little Maggie Scarsdell,
with a cry and a splash, fell overboard. In another
second her friend Miss Bullion was in the water, too,
vainly trying to save her playfellow.
It took me one second to dash off my pea-jacket
and spring overboard-no one in our boat saw the
accident till then; and I was yards ahead of Jim,
who followed my example.
"I could swim, for I used to go to the baths on
Saturday at home, and so a few strokes brought me
up to the floating glory of little Miss Bullion's hair,
which I grasped remorselessly, towing her along
with me as I struck out for Maggie. Poor little
soul! she was gasping and struggling with the waves,
and on my approach seized me with the terrible
clutch of the drowning.
"I was a good swimmer, but this I knew would be
fatal to all of us; so with the force of despair I shook
her off, and then seized her once again, saying, in
the firmest voice I could muster-
"'Maggie, be still! hold by my shoulder !'
"The child heard, and with wonderful self-control
did as I bid her, till Jim came up and relieved me of
44 THE OLD SHIP.
little Miss Bullion, who was insensible, and between
us we got the children on board our boat, and then,
as quickly as possible, rowed ashore; the pleasure-
boat following with the terrified governess and chil-
"Kind and helpful people awaited our landing;
the nearest house was put at the service of the half-
drowned little girls; and I was seized by main force
and put to bed too, the world persisting in regarding
me as a hero.
"Every five minutes they brought me tidings of
the rescued ones, and when the last news came that
both were sitting up in bed taking arrowroot I fell
fast asleep, for I was greatly exhausted with my
"When I woke some one was standing at my bed-
side, who seized my hands and blessed me, turning
away his head to gulp down a sob.
It was Mr. Scarsdell.
"And some one else said, in rather a pompous
tone, 'You have our everlasting gratitude, William
Katteran, for your heroic deed of yesterday.'
It was Mr. Bullion.
"But was it yesterday? and was this another to-
day? I was all in confusion, and rubbed my eyes
and stared about at the strange room and the dawn-
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 45
ing day. I had slept calmly through a whole night
after my exertions.
"And then again, 'heroic deed!'
"What had I done ? I had taken a plunge into
a summer sea to save two children, to whom, in a
manner, I owed service.
"I felt quite ashamed, but Mr. Bullion went on,-
'In your state of health, too, it was most praise-
worthy! The doctor says the shock might have
proved fatal.' This was pleasant news for me. 'But
he is satisfied you have sustained no injury beyond
temporary fatigue, and we purpose rewarding you in
the manner we consider most beneficial to yourself
and family, by largely increasing your father's share
in the business. We shall have pleasure, also, in
advancing your interests in life, in any way your
parents may approve, since it seems the confine-
ment of an office is unsuited to your constitution.'
Long words weren't they, Ralph? but poor old
Mr. Bullion never used a short one when a long
one could be had. He was senior partner, you
"But, father, about Maggie ? inquired Queenie
"Well, dear, she was all right, we met on the
beach a day or two after."
But wasn't she always, all her life, very fond of
46 THE OLD SHIP.
you, and very grateful to you for saving her life ?"
pursued the little girl.
"She was always all her life very fond of me, and
thought of nothing but how to make me happy,"
said the Captain thoughtfully.
Marie drew Queenie aside.
It was our own mother, dear, I know," she
whispered. Margaret Scarsdell, there is her
name in the red prayer-book. Father used to
call mother Maggie. You remember her, Queenie,
quite well ?"
Yes, Queenie did remember her, but not as a
bright active child. A pale, suffering woman, almost
always in bed, was her recollection of Mrs. Katteran,
some one always kind and gentle, but not a part of
her life, as Avis, and Hans, and Captain Katteran
had speedily become. The description of her as
young, and healthy,. and laughing, would not fit in
with any of her childish associations.
She shook her head almost incredulously at Marie,
and would have remonstrated, but Captain Katteran
was speaking again.
"Now, children, you have heard my other story
of rescue from drowning. When I returned home I
found myself made into something like a hero by all
the family, excepting Fred, my young brother, who
could not get over the fact that I caught no fish in
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 47
the sea. He fancied I should have come home with
a basket full after all my preparations. I suppose I
looked rather crestfallen at the confession that my
lines never caught anything, so my father inter-
posed: 'Fred,' said he, 'your brother caught the
very biggest fish in Eastport bay, when he was
"Fred stared. 'And here it is, all alive,' con-
tinued he, smoothing down little Maggie's brown
"She was spending the day with us, I remem-
"' You made a good haul, then, my lad,' he turned
to me; 'our little Maggie is worth risking a good
"And so she was." Captain Katteran stopped
and sighed. He had his recollections of those blithe
old times; but he was never one to nurse sorrow, or
to show a sad face to his young ones.
Children, you all know or guess," he said cheer-
fully, that I have been telling you an incident of
your dear mother's childhood. After that day at
Eastport I became much more intimate with her
family, and though we were often separated by my
choice of a profession, Maggie and I always remained
dear friends; till we became something more-man
and wife. We have often gone over this old story
48 THE OLD SHIP.
together, and your mother used to laugh and tell me
how surprised and horrified I looked when Miss
Wrinkle insisted on kissing me, the first time she
met me after the accident, in token of her 'everlast-
ing gratitude' also."
f r IC I s
"I Who best
Can suffer, best can do."
", ATHER," questioned persistent little
Ralph, "where are all those people
now the people that you knew
when you were a boy ? I mean little Miss
Bullion, and Miss Wrinkle, and Fred."
"Scattered, my boy, everywhere. Let me
see if I can at all account for the greater part.
Miss Bullion married a settler, and went out to the
wilds of Australia. I hear she is very happy, assist-
ing in her own cooking and sometimes catching her
own fowl for dinner. She never did care for money
or state. Your Uncle Fred died young, so did two
of the Scarsdell boys. Miss Wrinkle also married,
to my great astonishment as a lad. I always thought
her about sixty, and made of cast-iron; but I heard
she made a famous wife to a north country clergy-
man. My poor mother did not live very long after my
50 THE OLD SHIP.
brother Fred's death, and then my father became a
sleeping partner in the firm, and devoted his whole
time to his favourite study of archeology. You
know what became of little Maggie Scarsdell, my
children. Well, we must thank God so many kind
friends are left us. Grandfather, dear old great-
grandfather, who after all seems the halest of
the party, and all these restive young folks, eh,
"Father," returned Ralph pensively, "you were a
very lucky boy, I think, hardly ever at school, going
first to business, and then to sea, just when lessons
would be growing hard."
Lazy fellow," said the Captain, laughing, is that
what you envy me for? Let me tell you, my young
man, there are harder lessons waiting a middy than
those a schoolboy learns on his bench in a comfort-
able schoolroom. To begin with, sea-sickness and
discomfort; rough practical jokes, and even unkind
treatment, from other lads a little more seasoned to
sea life than himself; no mother or father to run to
for comfort,-very plain food, sometimes worse than
plain, and so forth. Be content to stay at home for
the present, my boy. A little more schooling than I
had will do you no harm."
"But I shall get mine on board a training ship,
shan't I, father ?" demanded the little fellow proudly;
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 51
"that will be almost as good as being at sea. Oh
dear, I wish I was three years older all in a
"Father," said Lisle hesitatingly, "Lord Sunning-
dale offered you a nomination for me to Traversham
school; didn't he ? "
He offered it for Hans," said Captain Katteran,
"two years ago; but I was compelled to refuse it;
my means did not permit such a step, and Hans
agreed with me. Lately, however, he has renewed
his offer. The school has been re-organised, and pecu-
liar advantages secured to the sons of parents of
moderate means, possessing some ability. What
do you think of the matter, Lisle? Shall I send
your name in, if on reflection I find I can manage
the expense ?"
Lisle flushed up. It was the desire of his heart.
"If you could, father, I should like it so much."
"All right! we will talk it over by and by. But
remember, it must be work, real work, at Traversham,
if I do send you there. It will be a pull on the family
purse, but we shall not grudge it to our scholar, if he
makes the best of his time."
Lisle fidgeted, poked the fire, and played with
Toto's soft curls.
He was the scholar of the family: his abilities
were far better than Carroll's, better even than steady
52 THE OLD SHIP.
Hans, but he was not industrious. And no one
knew this better than himself. Working under his
father he every now and then surprised and pleased
him by his achievements, while more often he vexed
him by his indolence.
The- boy indeed was a puzzle to his father; he
seemed to lack that firmly-rooted principle which
guided his elder and younger brothers, and it by no
means satisfied Captain Katteran that strangers
invariably singled out this lad as the most promising
of the flock.
Could it be that hitherto the mode of education
provided for him had been unsuited to his peculiar
disposition ? Perhaps a wider field, other companions,
and honest school rivalry, might suit the boy better,
thought the considerate father. He had already
talked the matter over with Avis and his eldest son,
and they had agreed that when Hans took his place
in a banking-house in London, this next son should
be given a lift in life. After Christmas Hans was to
go, and then, or at Easter, Lisle should be sent to
Carroll, a quiet, even-tempered lad, might wait a
little before his future was decided upon; he seemed
to have no special bent, and plodded on diligently at
whatever tasks his father thought fit to set before
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 53
So the first winter closed in on the family at the
"Old Ship," finding them all comfortably settling
into their places. The boys and Marie spent the
morning in their father's study. He was well able
to ground them thoroughly, not only in English, but
in modern languages. Hans was his father's' assist-
ant at present, but when he left for London Avis
would take his place. Now she used her leisure in
helping old nurse, and in stitching for the little ones.
Eight children on a small income make busy hands,
if not anxious hearts.
None of the children, excepting Hans and Avis,
had ever realized that their father was different
from other men, except as being superior to them.
The crutches, the invalid chair, the days of sickness
and weariness, were a part of himself, of their own
dear father; they could no more separate them
from him than Lord Sunningdale from his title.
When people pitied Captain Katteran in the hearing
of his children, Lisle grew almost angry; Carroll
turned a deaf ear-only ignorance could make
them deplore anything in his father-and Ralph
and Marie opened their mouths and stared, a trick
those two young people fell into when the sense of
what went on in conversation soared right above
their young heads; but Queenie, poor little Queenie !
the waif and stray who did not belong in any way
54 THE OLD SHIP.
to the sick man, on her the effect of such speeches
was most trying, and to bystanders surprising.
Her cheeks would flush; her eyes blaze, and then
fill with tears.; and at last her little heart would
burst, and a torrent of reproach and lamentation
would pour from her lips.
Oh, don't say it don't say it! I won't have it !"
was Oueenie's usual refrain. And then she would
either sink on the ground in an agony of tears, to
be rescued and comforted by Hans or Avis, or she
would rush through the house, never resting till
she threw herself into Captain Katteran's arms,
sobbing out her grief on his breast.
It is only Queenie; she often does that when
any one speaks about father," Marie would quietly
explain. "She loves father so much!" the honest
little girl would add, feeling that there was reality
in this violent, troublesome, Southern love, which
made Queenie disgrace herself before well-inten-
Miss Travers had been terrified by one such
outburst. "My dear, the child is a perfect little
fury!" she said to Miss Lenox. I simply alluded
to Captain Katteran's precarious health, and she
all but flew at me!"
Miss Lenox smiled. She had taken a fancy to
the little foundling at the "Old Ship," and being
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 55
less of a talker than her friend, had managed to
escape wounding the sensitive child.
"She is certainly very different from the other
children," she said mildly; "they seem very well
"Oh, they are delightful!" returned Miss Travers;
"particularly the second boy, Lisle; he is a perfect
little gentleman. The eldest is a fine tall lad, but
wants manner. Miss Katteran is a sweet girl, too,
and I am to show that little Marie my wool-work
pattern; she seemed so pleased at my offering to
teach it to her."
The Katteran children were early made to feel
that they had duties without their home walls as
well as within; from the time it could speak, each
little one felt bound to say a friendly word to any
visitor or neighbour who crossed its path, and to
run and hide when the door-bell rang was a thing
unknown amongst them. Father's visitors were
also friends of theirs, to be welcomed by them.
So Miss Travers had found herself much at ease
in the pretty little "Ship" drawing-room, where the
eldest daughter received her so kindly, where even
the baby extended its small hand in welcome, and
where Marie, carefully counting the threads and
stitches of a very well-thumbed kettle-holder, had
thankfully accepted the invitation to come to Myrtle
56 THE OLD SHIP.
Cottage the first holiday afternoon. The only draw-
back had been Queenie, who had flown" as usual
when Captain Katteran was spoken of, and had had
to be carried off by Avis.
Dr. Lenox was equally pleased with the family.
"The extraordinary part of it, my dear," he ex-
plained to his sister, "is, that this poor, feeble creature
is not content to work for his own large family, but
he has placed himself at my service to fill any post in
the parish I think suited to him! And I believe he
will do thoroughly whatever he undertakes. A man
to make one feel ashamed!" meditated the old clergy-
man aloud, pacing up and down his drawing-room.
Before the Katterans had been a fortnight at
Twainbrook every one knew the invalid Captain,
and recognized him as a friend. The poor people
were won directly by his gentle courtesy, his need
of help-ay, such help as the poorest cottager with
a strong arm could give-and his ready acceptance
of such assistance. On Hans and Lisle he had
leaned the first Sunday morning, pacing slowly
down the hill to the village, and up again towards
the church, which stood on a knoll above it; but
the week following a couple of young farmers,
"Going your way, sir," had offered even stouter
assistance, and Captain Katteran smiled at his sons
and changed his supporters.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 57
No one was ever ten minutes in the sick man's
company without being the better for it, and the
ruddy shy lads would turn away from the Ship"
door, their hearts enlarged and their tone of thought
raised by the few pleasant words with which the
Captain had beguiled the way. By and by, too,
they were encouraged to open their hearts to him;
and then many a chafed spirit was soothed, many a
restive soul coaxed back to ways of pleasantness and
peace, by his gentle counsel.
"I'm always here, boys," the Captain would
say; "my ship never goes far out of port now: so
if you want a talk with me any day you have
only to call and say so. I want to know all my
neighbours in Twainbrook." And such visitors
were made as welcome as Sir. Richard Vaughan
or Dr. Lenox.
Dr. Lenox would look in on the motley gathering,
and go home to his sister with the scene impressed
on his memory.
The new-comer in Twainbrook was no common
man; rather, he seemed like some old prophet sent
down in their midst to warn, to counsel, to lead by
his example, straight from these dusty highroads of
life to the narrow heavenly path.
If he only had health and strength, what could
not such a man do ?" said the doctor. But he was
58 THE OLD SHIP.
wrong; it was his very feebleness that first opened
men's hearts to Captain Katteran.
Health and strength would have merely warned
them off him; what could they have done for him
then? Serving your neighbour is very often the
first step on the road to loving him.
Not only did Captain Katteran try to elevate the
souls of those amongst whom his lot was cast, but he
cared for their bodies too.
"Our Lord- cared for the starving multitude," he
used to say. "He bade us feed the hungry and clothe
the naked; so I cannot think lightly of school treats
or even red shawls at Christmas. Our bodies are
half of ourselves, if the worst half."
A little medicine and surgery, too, among his
stores of knowledge, was not unacceptable in a
village where no doctor had yet made a settle-
ment. Very soon after the Captain's arrival at the
" Old Ship," a messenger came one day in hot haste
from the village. A gardener had stumbled over
his scythe, and was bleeding to death. Rumour
said the Captain knew everything; could he come
at once ?
It was one of the sick man's worst days, when to
move was painful, to move quickly impossible; Hans
was out with Lisle.
Avis, however, was at hand; she and Hans seldom
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 59
left their father for long. Captain Katteran looked
"Yes, father, I am ready, I will go," said Avis.
" Carroll will come with me; at any rate, I can try to
stop the bleeding till better help comes."
So Avis went bravely off to poor John Timms, and
tied bandages firmly above the wound to stop the
bleeding, and cheered the sufferer till the nearest
doctor came and released her from her trying watch,
rewarding her with the few words, You have saved
And just then her father came in between two of
the villagers, having with difficulty crawled to the
house, fearful lest Avis should find the case beyond
"A wonderful man, but a great sufferer appa-
rently," said Mr. Kyrle, like every one else, after
seeing Captain Katteran.
"Can I give you a lift back in my gig ?" he asked
the pale invalid.
But the Captain shook his head. Carriage move-
ment of all things jarred his too sensitive frame.
And, besides, a couple of hours' watch over John
Timms would ensure the wound not opening afresh,
so he would wait awhile; he should sleep the better
if things were going satisfactorily with the poor
60 THE OLD SHIP.
And Mrs. Timms, who had rocked herself into an
agony of useless grief, was all alert at the words.
Tea must be got for the kind gentleman; he must
be made comfortable if he was going to stay with
And after tea Captain Katteran engrossed and
amused the elder child, while the mother put the
little ones to bed.
He's good for soul and body," said Mrs. Timms
to her neighbours; "it's very few as thinks of both
in a breath. Listen to him now reading to John, with
little Sam by his side the while. He is the right
sort for us poor folk."
( 61 )
Let me hence, that I may pass at last
Beyond the poplar, and far up the flood,
Until I find the palace of the king.
There will I enter in among them all,
And no man there will dare to mock at me;
And there the king will know me and my love,
And there the queen herself will pity me,
And all the gentle court will welcome me,
And after my long voyage I shall rest."
l OW, Queenie, you promised to be good
while father and Avis are in London."
It was Marie who spoke, with the staid
air that belonged to the quiet Dutch damsel
-a -strange contrast to the agitated little
figure that swayed uneasily before her in the
" Ship" garden.
"And I do want to be good," returned Queenie;
"but how can I, with father and Hans away, and
Ralph always teasing ?"
"Ralph is only a little boy; you must not mind
him," said Marie.
"You say he's little when he teases, and big when
62 THE OLD SHIP.
he goes to bed after me," Queenie answered, puzzled
by this nursery problem.
Marie could not explain it away; so Queenie
plunged into a fresh grievance.
"Nurse can't understand; she said I was making
a mess of father's own garden, when I was only put-
ting in crocus-roots to grow up for his coming back;
and she made me cross, and I threw all the bulbs
"Threw them away said Marie; "all your six-
penny-worth! O Queenie! how naughty! And
now you will have nothing ready for father, and I
shall have finished my slippers just in time."
The thought of this catastrophe caused such deso-
lation in poor Queenie's heart, that she flung herself
on the garden-walk in her usual attitude of despair.
"The princess in a pet!" cried mischievous Ralph,
running by. He, too, missed the supervision of father
and sister, and had fallen into the old sins of teasing
and mocking so common to young boys. He and
Marie had holidays just now, not being thought old
enough to study by themselves as Carroll did; and
the elder members of the family had accompanied
Hans to London-Captain Katteran to see his doctor,
Avis to visit her Dutch great-grandfather just arrived
on a visit to London, and Lisle to be transferred to
his school at Traversham.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 63
With some qualms the little party of younger ones
were left in charge of nurse, a trusty person as re-
garded the Katteran children, but a very firebrand to
the inflammable nature of Queenie.
"Let her be out of doors all day," was Avis's last
injunction to nurse; "wrap her up well, and bring
her in at dusk-that will be best for her."
And on Marie many a command was laid-to be
very kind to Queenie, and if possible to keep Ralph
from teasing her, and to try and take the place of
father and Avis to all the little ones.
There was always ground for confidence in Marie:
what a child could do she would; but sometimes the
world was too difficult for her. Now, when Ralph
came by with his foolish, mocking words, and
Queenie jumped up white with rage and ran out of
sight into the shrubbery, she was puzzled and dis-
tressed. It is no use going after Oueenie; she
will be so angry," sighed the poor child. "I had
better talk to Ralph first. He knows it is wrong to
So she followed her younger brother into a tool-
house, and bribed him to make friends with Oueenie
by a gift of three Barcelona nuts; and then the diffi-
culty was to find the truant.
There were many outbuildings belonging to the
"Old Ship" which Queenie specially frequented-
64 THE OLD SHIP.
coach-houses and lofts, arbours and mazes; but the
little girl could not be found in any of them.
"She's hiding somewhere," cried Ralph at last;
"it's a shame she doesn't answer us; and she'll be
late for dinner, too. The first bell rang long ago.
I must be off, for my hands want such a lot of
So did Marie's, and the two returned quietly to the
house, a little sorry that Queenie could not be found
and comforted. Ralph, with all his teasing ways, was
fond of his companion, and missed her sadly.
It was not a very uncommon occurrence that
Queenie should miss a meal in this way, and creep in
later in the day weary and exhausted, with the evil
spirit gone out of her. Even nurse was sorry for her
then, and would bring out the plate of dinner kept
hot for her without a word. I couldn't come before,"
she said once when reasoned with on the subject; "I
was not good enough to be with any one." So, out
in the open air, or hid in some remote garret, the
child got rid of her irritated feelings, coming back
into the family circle "as good as gold," as nurse
"What do you do all alone this long time ?" Ralph
But Oueenie would not tell him. To Hans she
once whispered, I wait till I can say my 'naughty'
BE TTER THAN S TRENVGTH. 65
prayer, and then I know I can come in without want-
ing to slap Ralph or be angry with Marie."
Poor little girl! her childish days were sadly
disturbed by these storms of temper. Well might
Captain Katteran, in thinking of his children's future,
wonder into what port this strange child's vessel
would drift, or whether by God's mercy it would
finally be anchored in the calm waters which lie
beneath the shadow of the Rock of Ages.
But the day drew to a close, and still no little girl
crept into the "Old Ship," chilled, and tired, and
longing for human sympathy. At last nurse became
"Master Ralph, you must have another look for
Miss Queenie; you know her hiding-places," she
said. "I shall have her ill, fasting so long in the
"But wherever can she have got to?" grumbled
Ralph, who was lying before the fire with a story-book.
"I don't know where to look, nurse, now."
Marie was in the garden, also very uneasy. "Ralph,
has she fallen into the river, do you think?" she asked
in a hushed voice. But Ralph refused to think of
"She knows all the slippery places," he answered;
"she wouldn't fall in; and besides, she is just like a
goat for going anywhere safely. No, no, Marie, it
66 THE OLD SHIP.
isn't that," he said, looking gravely down into the
muddy depths of the Ardor.
Then what has become of her ?" asked Marie, her
voice trembling with anxiety. "O Ralph! why did
you mock her, with Hans away too ?"
I never thought she'd take it to heart like that,"
muttered Ralph. "Ah, here's a hole in the hedge,
perhaps she has crept through into the meadow."
But the white mists were rising, and the children's
eyes were soon as weary of seeking as their voices of
At last Ralph stood still.
"It's my belief she's gone to London after the
others," he declared.
"To London!" exclaimed Marie. "London, Ralph!
all that long way by herself!"
"Well, you know she never thinks when she's
in a real rage," said Ralph; "and yesterday when
I vexed her she said she must either go to London
to our father, or to Spain to find her very own,-
she thinks he's alive there, you know; she's always
telling me about him when we sit in the loft,-so
"Perhaps we'd better tell nurse and Doctor Lenox,"
said Marie. The Katteran self-possession had come
back to her, she was the responsible person at home,
and must do something immediately.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 67
A great hush fell on the Old Ship" that winter's
night; the stir had gone without the doors, and
spread itself through the length and breadth of the
village. Ralph and Marie crouched silently before
the fire in the dining-room all alone, frightened and
remorseful, while out-of-doors labourers with torches
and grooms with lanterns searched dark lanes,
peered under frost-laden hedges, and glanced .down
into the depths of the sullen Ardor and the swollen
Sir Richard Vaughan and Doctor Lenox were
superintending the search for the lost child, for as
such Queenie now came to be considered; and Miss
Travers herself, muffled to the eyes, was standing at
her gate, with Mary Jane behind her, encouraging the
search. She had a kindly heart, and the thought of
any child wandering hungry and sorrowful through
the chill of this winter's night touched her.
But no Queenie could be found.
Sir Richard called at the Ship" to cross-examine
poor, miserable Ralph, as to what Queenie had said
and done that day; and Ralph had kept nothing
back, even sobbing out when he had finished, I vexed
her, or she would not have gone; and now, what will
father say ?"
It was a perplexing business.
Sir Richard sent to the nearest town to tell the
68 THE OLD SHIP.
authorities there of the occurrence, and two police
were at once despatched to join in the search; but
they were no better able to find poor Queenie than
the villagers themselves had been; every trace of the
child seemed to have vanished out of the place.
The Inspector arrived about midnight, took down
a description of her, and a photograph from the
album on the drawing-room table, and then left
the "Old Ship" to its suspense and misery again.
Nurse insisted on Carroll, Marie, and Ralph going
to bed after that; she promising to remain up, and
wake them if Queenie were discovered. But the
winter sun danced on the house windows for a long
hour before she roused her tired flock, who saw by
her face that there was no good news.
"They have telegraphed to the Captain," was her
first remark. And poor Ralph turned on his pillow
and groaned. "Only three days away from home,
and to be brought back for this! "
"Doctor Lenox said it was best," nurse went on.
"Master has such a head; he'll find the poor darling
if she is to be found."
For nurse, in company with some of the village
mothers, held the terrible opinion that poor Queenie
must have fallen into the river which ran at the foot
of the garden, or else she would certainly have been
heard of before. Drags, however, had already been
BETTER TiHAN STRENGTH. 69
employed by Sir Richard's keepers, but no little
drowned girl was brought to light.
Ralph, while very wretched and morose to those
who questioned him, still clung to his first idea that
she had gone to London or to Spain; and though
even kind Dr. Lenox said "Oh, pooh, pooh!" and
refused to listen to such a suggestion, he knew it was
by no means so impossible as the old clergyman
She's often got the map and showed me Madrid,"
said he to Marie, his only comfort just now; "and once
she asked me if the Queen of Spain had ever lost a
little girl. I don't always laugh at her, you know,
Marie; that's only when I have a provoking fit on;
sometimes I sit and listen and let her talk; it is fun,
you know. She is like a story-book; she tells about
great castles, and lords and ladies, and mules with
bells and gold hangings, and she says that when she
is grown up she shall go to Spain herself, and travel
all over it, asking if any one has lost a child. Father
thinks she was a little Spaniard, you know, Marie."
"Yes," said Marie, reflecting on what Ralph had
told her; "but I thought you fancied she had gone to
London now to father and Avis ?"
"And so I do," said poor Ralph, himself bewildered.
"Oh, dear, if father had only been at home !" And
he walked to the window, to wipe away a few tears.
70 THE OLD SHIP.
At ten years old it is so pleasant and easy to say a
mocking word to a little companion, while the con-
sequences, when they do take a grievous turn, are so
terrible and hard to be borne. Ralph was not quite
sure wh-at he was answerable for. If Queenie was
never found, never came home, would he be put in
prison for having frightened her away-the poor
little foundling that had no real father and mother,
no home by birthright? How much farther his own
thoughts would have tortured him cannot be ima-
gined. Happily kind Miss Lenox came to the Ship,"
and insisted on taking the three children back to the
Rectory with her, and, divining Ralph's remorseful
state of mind, devoted herself specially to cheering
him, so winning his heart that the boy at last told
her his terrors, and was comforted in return by the
assertion that no one could touch him-they would
only be very, very sorry for him, that, without mean-
ing it, he had said the thoughtless word which had
driven poor Queenie away.
"It's not me, it's my tongue," confessed the boy,
"it will go on, while my thinking part goes to sleep.
Some one told me once (perhaps it was Avis) to say
the whole alphabet through before I began to speak
if I wanted to tease Queenie, but either I forget, or I
gabble it through, and the moment I have said Z, I
call out Princess,' or something, and then it's all
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 71
done. Oh, dear, it is so cold, what will Queenie
And from terror on his own account the poor little
boy went off into grief for the lost child who had had
no dinner yesterday, and whom he pictured dying of
hunger and misery to-day, all by his fault.
Miss Lenox certainly had her hands full, for Toto
burst into a roar at sight of Ralph's tears, and even
poor Marie was too upset to console the baby. What
could have become of Queenie too? That question
really began to puzzle everybody.
( 72 )
Said he, 'I cannot say a prayer,
To school I do not go,
And no one teaches me to pray,
"i And sono words I know.' "
J. E. Bendall.
SHE first feeling of Queenie's when she
rushed wildly away from teasing Ralph,
was a frantic desire to get out of sicht
/ of every one, to hide herself among the laurel
bushes, where, crouching on the ground, a
second longing came upon her, stronger and
more absorbing than the other; a craving to be
with Hans, with the dear father, those two who
could best comfort her.
"Was London so very far off? perhaps she could
reach them before nightfall, and throw herself and all
her troubles into their arms."
Queenie had never been left without either of them
before, and in her agitated state she could find no
rest save in the idea of flying to them. She would
go, she determined.
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 73
When the rain-storm of tears subsided a little
she crept out of her hiding-place, through that hole
in the hedge which attracted Ralph's notice, and
running across the meadow like a frightened rabbit,
she soon gained what all the children knew as the
London road. It was noon, the villagers' dinner-
hour, and there were no people about.
On she sped; and her spirits rose as she fancied
herself nearing London. The little girl might be
able to find Madrid on the map, but she had small
notion of the distance between Twainbrook and the
great city. She knew that Avis had said they would
all reach it on the evening of the day they started,
so why should not she nestle that very night in their
"And they can write to-morrow morning and tell
Ralph that I am not vexed with him," thought
Queenie, pausing for the first time to sit down on a
milestone. She was not angry then; all her riotous
feelings were quelled, peace was within reach, she
When she rose to continue her journey, a certain
chilliness and fatigue reminded her that she had been
walking some time, and had had no dinner; but she
tried to keep up her heart, saying within herself,
"I shall be in time for tea in London."
No one had as yet taken any notice of the
74 THE OLD SHIP.
child, for the road was very solitary this cold winter's
Queenie's spirits began steadily to decline as dusk
came on, and just as Ralph and Marie were making
their last fruitless search she was sitting on a heap of
stones, about four miles outside Twainbrook, with
tears coursing down her cheeks.
Should she ever reach London ? or should she not,
more likely, die by the roadside, hungry and cold as
she was ?
The child already began to feel frozen and stupid.
Even the sound of wheels approaching slowly in the
distance did not excite her; she was past asking for
help from any one. The wheels came nearer; they
belonged to a shabby little cart, drawn by a still shab-
bier pony, by whose side walked a man and a boy.
It was the whole establishment of a travelling tinker
or umbrella mender.
The boy, who sauntered on a few paces ahead
whistling and slapping his hands on his shoulders to
keep them warm, pulled up with an exclamation of
surprise on seeing Queenie, who had sunk down on
the heap of stones.
Queenie, chilled and wretched, was the most sub-
dued little creature in the world. She let the lad
bend over her, ask her name, and, finally, try to lift
her up, without a word of remonstrance or explana-
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 75
tion. "The little one must be lost or fallen out of a
cart," said the boy when Queenie gave no answer to
his questions. "You'll never leave her here, Ned;
she'd be dead before morning. I wonder if there is
a cottage near we could take her to ?"
The tinker came nearer, to look Queenie well over.
Then he, too, tried his hand at getting some informa-
tion from the child. But Queenie would not, could
not speak; only those she loved could have made any
impression on her at that moment.
She's not a common child," said the tinker at last.
"Bob, I see my way out of this: lift her into the cart,
we'll take her on with us."
But she belongs to Twainbrook folk most likely,"
,said the boy, straining his eyes down the road behind
them. "We'll be taking her most likely further
"All the better," said the tinker in a whisper.
"There'll be a bigger reward when she's missed. Put
her in among the straw and cover her over; we'll
take her on a couple of days, and then there'll be
something handsome offered for her. All you've got
to do, Bob, is to keep quiet, and leave me to manage.
There, wrap your jacket round her, and put heroin
among the umbrellas."
And this was how Queenie continued her jour-
ney to London. She lay perfectly still in the little
76 THE OLD SHIP.
jolting cart, hardly taking any notice of her new
"Perhaps when we get under shelter for the night,
and she's warmed up a bit, she'll say a word to us,"
That night was a strange one to Queenie; the
strangest she ever remembered, for she was too young
to have any recollection of that other night when she
was a frail plaything for the waves of a troublesome
sea. The shelter Bob spoke of was only a shed in a
field meant for cattle; but the tinker had his own
reasons for not asking better refuge in cottage or inn.
The fewer eyes that saw the little traveller the better.
So a field gate was opened and the little cart drawn
on to the frosty grass, the pony taken out and allowed
to forage for itself in the meagre pasture, and then
Queenie was carried out and propped up in a corner
of the shed.
Afterwards Bob collected a few sticks, and made
a fire in the ditch close by; over it he boiled a
pan of water, which he speedily converted into tea,
tasting strongly of smoke and nothing else, but
meant as a dainty for Queenie. It did her good, as
he intended it should, for he was a good-natured lad,
and his kind face and anxious questioning drew in
time a nod from the little girl; she was thawing at
last. Still she was frightened at the elder man, so
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 77
she gave no sign of speech; but when she had drunk
the tin of tea Bob brought her, and eaten the hard
crust of bread, she let him take her to the blazing
sticks outside, and chafe her cold hands and feet.
"Don't you be feared; I'll make you a nice bed for
the night, and stay nigh you," whispered Bob.
Ever watchful, Bob understood the wistful eyes, and
wished to convince Queenie that he would be as care-
ful of her as any knight was of distressed damsel.
There was quite a soft bed in the warmest end of
the shed when Queenie was taken back into it; and
though the wind drove sharply through the chinks in
the walls, the little girl slept soundly; she was not
without a friend, little wanderer that she was. Bob
had been elected to that position.
The waking, however, puzzled her. The chill air,
the rough men, the wintry field, were strangely
unlike the warm nursery, Marie, and nurse, at the
What had she done? Whose little girl was she
She felt stiff and uncomfortable with sleeping in
her day-clothes. Yet she objected to change them,
as the tinker insisted, for others which he brought out
of the cart. He did a little trade in cast-off garments,
too, and thought it best to disguise Queenie somewhat
before proceeding on their journey.
78 THE OLD SHIP.
"They doubles a reward after the first day," he
muttered to Bob angrily; the boy being desirous of
returning the little girl as soon as possible to her
friends. "We shall hear if there's been a cry after
her in Bridgley or Kingshaughton as we go through.
All I've got to say is, keep the child well hid in the
cart as we pass them places, or it'll, be the worse for
you. Has she spoken yet, and told you where she
Bob shook his head. Queenie had smiled at him
once, and once clutched his hand for protection when
Ned came near her, but nothing more. Presently,
however, on passing a wayside alehouse, the elder
man went in, desiring Bob to go ahead with the pony
and cart, and he would overtake them shortly. They
had left the highroad by this time, and were passing
along lanes that in summer would have been lovely,
lined as they then would be with primrose banks and
rose hedges. Even now the robins sang on the leaf-
less boughs, and the wintry sky seemed to roof them
over with more colour and warmth than on the high-
way. Bob pulled aside the tarpaulin that covered his
small passenger. Queenie's eyes wandered uneasily
"He's safe for an hour," said the boy, in answer to
the look. "Never you fear; and he don't mean ill
by you; we'll have you safe at home by to-morrow
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 79
at furthest. We're all in the respectable line." This
information comforted Queenie, though she only
understood a part of it.
"You can get out and walk a bit," said Bob, stopping
the cart; "it will do you good."
Queenie's soft grey dress had given place to a dingy
plaid; her jacket was replaced by a dirty shawl tied
under her arms, and a boy's old cap covered her hair.
It was not Queenie, it was Bob's little sister.
The sunshine, however, shone alike on one and the
other; it was impossible to maintain a sullen silence
in the midst of this wintry brightness, and a Thank
you" fell from the child's lips as Bob offered her a
He started as if one of the robins had spoken, and
then made the best of his opportunity.
"Where's your home, missy ?" he asked. "You
can tell me now. Old Ned thought as how you were
"I'm going to London," said Queenie decidedly.
"Is that where your people be ?" asked Bob.
"And have you run away from school?" asked
Bob. It was not a bad guess, but Queenie shook her
"They left me behind," at last she explained.
"I'm going to them. I come from the 'Old Ship.'"
80 THE OLD SHIP.
Bob was not much the wiser, though in his
mind he connected it with Twainbrook. "They left
you behind! then you ought to have stopped," he
"But I can't be good without them. I want to be
good," said Queenie.
"They won't think it very good your running off
like this," answered Bob.
"Won't they? Will they be angry?" Queenie
asked. "I thought only nurse would be cross."
"The nurse will be in a pretty way," said Bob; but
it's the father and mother as will take it to heart. It's
they as offers the reward, and go on increasing it, and
a-wringing their hands. We picked up a lost child
once afore; a farmer's little one as had fallen out of
a covered cart coming back from market. He wasn't
rich, not to say, but it was ten, and twenty, and thirty
pounds all ready to your hand in a minute! That's
what has given old Ned the fancy to keep you a bit."
"Will my father and Hans cry, too,?" asked Queenie,
anxiously looking up in Bob's face.
"As sure as my name's Bob they will!" he
answered, with a decisive flick of the whip.
Bob was not prepared for the effect of his words.
Queenie instantly flung herself down on the hedge-
bank, her whole frame shaking with sobs. "I never
meant that! I never meant that!" she cried. "I
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BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 81
only wanted to get to them! Oh! why did I do it?
Take me home quick, do!"
And then she started to her feet, ready to fly any-
where, to Bob's intense alarm. He left the pony to
clutch her tight by the sleeve.
"Hush! hush! it's all right!" he said soothingly;
"you're a-going home-by and by leastwise."
"But, O Bob! what shall I do now, while my
heart's breaking?" asked Queenie, the tears stream-
ing down her face in pitiful fashion.
"You could write a letter, and I could post it in
Kingshaughton," suggested Bob hesitatingly. He
was perplexed between his desire to comfort the
child and his fear of doing anything to irritate
No, I couldn't," sobbed the poor child; "not with-
out lines and ink and a table that won't shake; and
then I've no stamp, and I can't ask father for one."
It was a piteous case, and Bob was at the end of
his consolations. Queenie was the one to suggest a
means of comfort.
She dashed her tears away, and put her hands
together. "I'll say my prayers," she said firmly.
"I forgot them this morning, because it never
was a proper morning. Hans would like me to do
Bob stood and watched the child in utter amaze-
82 THE OLD SHIP.
ment; such a thing had never come under his notice
He was not quite a heathen; he knew there were
people who went to church and said prayers to a God
above; but it had never been connected with real
work-a-day life; and that a little child in trouble
should of her own accord pray to God, and ask Him
in words that the boy could understand and follow
to forgive her her naughtiness, and bring her back to
her home and her friends, was to him a marvel of no
ordinary nature. He winked a tear out of his eyes
when Queenie finished her morning hymn; some-
thing had touched him all at once, and made him
glad and sorry. Glad that such a glimpse had been
given him of a world above his own; sorry that he
had so small a part in it.
"Do you do that every day?" he asked, when
Queenie rose from her knees; "say prayers, I mean ?"
"Yes," said Queenie simply; "don't you ?"
"No, never!" answered the boy, turning his head
away. "They never learned me when I was little."
"Then how ever can you get good again when you
have been naughty ?" asked Queenie anxiously.
"I'm never good nor naughty," answered Bob, with
a hard ring in his voice. "I'm just Bob the tinker's
boy; no one never expects anything from me."
"But when you die and go to heaven you'll feel
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 83
so strange!" suggested Queenie. The boy who knew
not God was a puzzling creature for her to deal with.
"I shall only be like the rest," said Bob. "There's
a many as is the same as me."
"I'm sorry," said Queenie perplexed. "I don't
know them, but, Bob, I do know you, and I like you.
Shall I teach you my prayers ? I know you must be
naughty sometimes, father says every one is. Now
listen and say them after me, and then you could tell
those other boys that are the same as you."
Queenie could not teach Bob's friends, that great
multitude who were the same as him, about God in
heaven; but she could repeat her own daily prayers
to Bob, and make him say them after her.
And Bob was pleased to learn them.
"My mother was a good sort," he told Queenie.
"I mind once going inside the church hanging on to
her skirt; but she died when I was a little chap, and
father went off for work, and I was put in the work-
house; but I was a strong lad, and they soon sent
me out to scare birds and such-like. Ned took me
next, and I've been with him this four years; but I
never heard of prayers or church till you came."
But you'll have to go to church some day, Bob,"
said the little girl, shaking her head at him.
"When ? ".asked Bob.
"When you are put in the ground," said Queenie,
84 THE OLD SHIP.
in a low whisper. "Every one must go back to God
some day, father says, whether they are good or
Bob whistled-not a defiant whistle, but just some-
thing to scare away troublesome thoughts; this
strange little missionary was making him uncom-
"You must get into the cart," he said at last.
"Ned will be on us; we are close to Kingshaughton
"Not near London ?" sighed Queenie.
"Not by forty miles," said Bob. "But never you
fret; as sure as my name's Bob, you shall be taken
home safe and sound."
( 85 )
Oh little feet I that such long years
Must wander on through hopes and fears,
Must ache and bleed beneath your load;
I, nearer to the wayside inn,
Where toil shall cease and res begin,
Am weary, thinking of your road !"
The night came on-all others slept
Their cares away till morn;
But sleepless all night watched and wept
That family forlorn"
HERE was great consternation in London
when the telegram reached Captain Kat-
teran containing the news of Queenie's
loss. He hurried home again with Hans,
taken hastily from his office-work, to find the
whole neighbourhood in a puzzle as to what
could have become of the child.
If it had been one of my own children, I should
have been even less anxious," said Captain Katteran;
" but this little, impulsive creature, there is no saying
what she may have done with herself!"
And then he sat and listened to the various means
S6 TTHE OLD SHIP.
that had already been employed for her recovery,
the rewards offered and the descriptions sent out;
while Hans, unable to believe that Queenie could be
far away, roamed over the wintry fields looking for
Ralph had already made full confession to his father
of his part in the disaster, and was happier in his mind
for it. It would be a lesson to him for life, however,
to guard his tongue-that little unruly member, which
had wrought such mischief and distress in their plea-
sant home. He missed Queenie sorely, on his own
account, too, and longed to have her back again.
The second night of trouble and suspense seemed
very long and terrible to those who were not young
enough to sleep through it in spite of all. Hans was
restless and wakeful, hardly waiting for the dawn to
get up. His room looked on the garden, and on
drawing up his blind his attention was at once at-
tracted by a strange figure hiding behind an old tree,
but every now and then glancing at his window. Did
it beckon to him ? He thought so. The boy hurried
on his clothes and made straight for the spot.
Yes, the half-clothed, shivering lad, that he had
noticed from the house, was still there, and did not
flinch as he approached.
"Is this the Old Ship ?'" the boy asked; "that
was the name I was to say."
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 87
"Yes, it certainly is; and what do you want with
us ?" replied Hans.
He never hurried himself or any one else in matters
"I have some one belonging to you out there,"
said the boy, indicating the summer-house that
overhung the river. "There's a reward they say,
but I don't want it; it must go to the person who
picked her up. But I've brought her back; I said
Brought Queenie back! our little girl ?" asked
Hans, hardly able to believe the good news.
The boy nodded.
"Out there," he repeated, "none the worse; and
her clothes are in the bundle; and here's the address
for the reward. I must not stay."
But Hans held the boy tightly.
"You don't go till this matter is cleared up!"
he said firmly. "Come and show me the little
And Bob went, unable to resist the grasp.
It was Queenie, that little bundle of rags asleep on
the cold bench in the summer-house-asleep, with an
old coat of the shivering lad's wrapped round her.
Hans stooped down to listen to the regular breath-
ing, and to take the small warm hand in his. Bob
did not stir. He seemed to look with something
88 THE OLD SHIP.
like pride on the sleeping child. In his secret soul
he was unwilling to be parted from this small crea-
ture, so different from all the rough surroundings of
his comfortless life.
All at once the child awoke with a frightened cry
"Ay, sure, I'm here, Queenie!" said the boy,
eagerly moving nearer to the little dreamer with an
air of protection. But Queenie had had a glimpse of
some one a thousand times more precious to her than
the tinker's boy. With a cry of delight she threw
herself on Hans, half suffocating him and herself in
her joy. Bob turned away with a sense of disappoint-
ment. The child was like a spaniel newly restored
to its master, and regardless of the rest of the
"I must be off," Bob said. No one surely now
wanted him here, and he feared every moment the
arrival of the enraged tinker.
"Give me my coat, master. The little one has
yours now, and is in sight of home; so I've kept my
word with her."
"No, you mustn't go, Bob Queenie cried; "you
must see father after I have seen him! He'll help
you, I know he will, since you've made Ned angry
by bringing me back."
"Come to the house after me!" said Hans. "At
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 89
any rate, you must have your breakfast, and then we
must have a full account of where you found our
Bob followed his small heroine, not sorry to keep
her a little longer in sight. He told his tale to
Captain Katteran very simply, not blaming or de-
fending Ned for retaining the child, but evidently in
great terror of his wrath when detected, and most
anxious to secure to his master the reward that had
been offered by the magistrates, since he felt that he
had played him false in carrying away the child from
Kingshaughton by stealth.
But Queenie's distress and anxiety to reach her
friends had overcome him; and when he found that
Tinker Ned, not satisfied with the amount of the
reward offered, was bent on conveying his prize
further from home, the lad only waited for sleep
and darkness before he crept away with the little
girl, carrying or dragging her all the way back to
Twainbrook. Once in the neighbourhood, Queenie
herself was able to describe the "Old Ship" as her
home. She was too broken-spirited now to think of
London. Nurse and her little bed would content
She was very repentant over her flight and the
trouble she had caused father and Hans. Captain
Katteran talked to her very gravely of the grief she
90 THE OLD SHIP.
had occasioned by giving way to sudden impulse and
acting on it.
"But how was I to be good without you ? asked
Queenie in bewilderment. "Nurse says she can't
manage me, and sometimes I won't mind Marie."
"Queenie," said Captain Katteran, taking her
hands in his, "I cannot always be with you; you
must not count on me in this way! I should like to
feel convinced that you will go on trying to be good,
even when I am not with you."
"Let me go where you go! you took me out of the
sea, keep me by you! she said earnestly.
"How can I, little one?" said her foster-father
fondly. God knows, I hope all my children will
gather round me in the end, in the home to which I
am looking forward. But your life here, child, is
likely to be a longer one than mine; you must not
so rely on me!"
He spoke strongly, as his feelings prompted him,
and poor Queenie strained her childish comprehen-
sion to take the words in; still, however, repeating,
" Let me go where you go! "
His own flock were all young, and, save Hans, in-
capable of dealing with so capricious a nature; who
then would guard and care for this troublesome,
over-loving creature ? He could see no solution of
the problem; so he turned away from the contem-
BETTER THAN STRENGTH. 91
plation of the little girl's future with a "God pro-
tect you, Queenie! Yes, He could do it, if earthly
helper there were none.
Next Bob, Queenie's ragged friend, had to be cared
for. At present Captain Katteran gave him a bed
in an outhouse, since the boy had no desire to return
to his former employer; and a few days later the
police ascertaining that the tinker had sold his pony
and cart and left the country, fearful of being taken
up on a charge of child-stealing, Bob breathed more
freely. Captain Katteran got him a place as farm-
lad in the neighbourhood; and to Queenie's great
joy he attended the Sunday-class, and was one of
the most attentive members in it.
He doesn't know much, but he wants to know,"
said Queenie to Dr. Lenox one day, picking out the
most hopeful trait in her rough squire's character.
Bob never failed to escort Miss Queenie back to
the "Old Ship" every Sunday afternoon. He evi-
dently considered her as a charge not to be lost
sight of, and Queenie in return patronised him to
her heart's content.
Patronise him, tease him, enslave him, however, as
she would, Bob always held her in the strictest venera-
tion. She, in those hard, worldly days, had given
him a link between earth and heaven-had struck a
real chord of the angels' music in his heart. He
92 THE OLD SHIP.
never forgot the prayer' in the lane; when he fell
asleep at night, after saying the words Queenie had
taught him, he heard the robins chirping, saw the
blue winter sky above him, and felt that there dwelt
One who loved little children, who cared for even
him, rough, friendless Bob.