The Baldwin Library
3EP tbe same autbor.
EVERY INCH A SAILOR. Price 5s.
HOW JACK MACKENZIE WON HIS EPAULETTES. Price 3s. 6d.
AS WE SWEEP THROUGH THE DEEP. Price 2s.
A PIRA TE'S GOLD. Price is. 6d.
T. NELSON AND SONS,
London, Edinburgh, and New York.
"It quas the 1,,Il,,-Zost James .11,1!Onc."
THE ISLAND OF GOLD
THE "SEA FLOWER"
T. NELSON AND ONS
London, Edinburgh, and New Fork
THE ISLAND OF GOLD
t Sailor's warn
GORDON STABLES, M.D., C.M.
SURGEON ROYAL NAVY
Author of "Every Inch a Sailor," "How Jack Mackenzie Won His Efaulettes,"
"As We Sweef Through the Deep,"
WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALLAN STEWART
THOMAS NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and New York
SAILING THROUGH THE MEADOWS GREEN
I. TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS, ........
II. LIFE IN THE WOODS, .......
III. "0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD," ... ....
IV. "RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON," .... ....
V. "OH, NO! I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY TILL WE IS BOF
DEADED .... ........ ....
VI. CHEE-TOW, THE RED CHIEF OF THE SLIT-NOSED INDIANS,
VII. ON SILENT HIGHWAYS, .... .......
VIII. "POOR MARY! SHE HAS GONE ON," ....
ALL SAIL FOR THE ISLAND OF GOLD.
"JUST THREE YEARS SINCE RANSEY WENT TO SEA," ....
"SHIP-SHAPE AND SEAMAN-FASHION.,
A QUARTER-DECK DREAM, ....
"DEAR, UNSELFISH, BUT SOMEWHAT SILLY FELLOW, ..
"TILL THE SEA GIVES UP ITS DEAD," .... ....
"'0 MY FRIEND, MY BROTHER,' I CRY," .... ....
"I THINK YOU'RE GOING ON A WILD-GOOSE CHASE," ....
'III. AT SEA-MERMAIDS AND MERMEN, ....
IX. WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF THE DANCING CRANE,
X. A BRUSH WITH THE SOMALIS-THE DERELICT,
XI. MUTINY ON BOARD-FAR TO THE SOUTHWARD,
Soook I E.
BATTLE AND SIEGE
I. "A SIGHT I SHALL REMEMBER TILL MY DYING DAY,"
II. I SEE A BEACH OF CORAL SAND, DARK FIGURES MOVING
TO AND FRO," ....
III. "WE SHALL ALWAYS BE BROTHERS NOW-ALWAYS, AL-
WAYS, .... ....
PRISONER AMONG SAVAGES-SHIPWRECK,
FORTIFYING THE ENCAMPMENT .... ..
AN AWFUL SECRET OF THE SEA,....
STRANGE ADVENTURES IN A CRYSTALLINE CAVE,
VIII. ENTOMBED ALIVE, .... ... ....
IX. "ON SWEPT THE WAR-CANOES TOWARDS THE CORAL
BEACH," .... ...... .... .
X. "AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH,"
XI. DEATH OF JAMES, .... .. ..
XII. LEAVES FROM FIRST MATE TANDY'S LOG,
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
"IT WAS THE LONG-LOST JAMES MALONE," .... Frontispiece
THE SEA FLOWER," .... .... .... Vignette
"'A GALLANT SHIP, WITH A CREW AS BRAVE AS EVER
SAILED THE OCEAN WAVE,'" .... ... .... 76
"THE DRILLING WAS COMMENCEDD" .... .... .... 158
"THE MEN PULLED OUT BOWL AFTER BOWL OF BEATEN
GOLD," .... .... .... .. .... 284
"THE MEN OF THE 'SEA FLOWER' ADVANCED IN A SEMI-
CIRCLE," .... .. .... .... .... 327
SAILING THROUGH THE MEADOWS GREEN
And she heard the little spring brook fall
Over the roadside, through the wall.
Low of cattle, and song of birds,
And health and quiet, and loving words."
J. G. WHrrrIn.
AN ISLAND OF GOLD.
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS.
R ANSEY TANSEY was up much earlier than usual
on this particular morning, because father was
coming home, and there was a good deal to do.
As he crawled out of his bed-a kind of big box
arrangement at the farther end of the one-roomed cottage
-he gave a glance towards the corner where Babs slept
in an elongated kind of basket, which by courtesy might
have been called a bassinette.
Yes, Babs was sound and fast, and that was something
Ransey Tansey had to be thankful for. He bent over her
for a few seconds, listening as if to make sure she was
alive; for this wee three-year-old was usually awake long
before this, her eyes as big as saucers, and carrying on an
animated conversation with herself in lieu of any other
The boy gave a kind of satisfied sigh, and drew the
coverlet over her bare arm. Then he proceeded to dress;
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS.
while Bob, a beautiful, tailless English sheep-dog, lay near
the low hearth watching his every movement, with his
shaggy head cocked a trifle to one side, as if he had his
considering cap on.
In summer time--and it was early summer now-
dressing did not take Ransey long.
When he opened the door at last to fetch some sticks
to light the fire, and stood for a moment shading his brow
with his hand against the red light of the newly-risen
sun, and gazing eastwards over a landscape of fields and
woods, he looked a strange little figure. Moreover, one
could understand now why he had taken such a short few
minutes to dress.
The fact is, Ransey Tansey hadn't very much to wear
just then. Barely eight years of age was Tansey, though,
as far as experience of the world went, he might have been
called three times as old as that; for, alas, the world had
not been over-gentle with the boy.
Ransey wore no cap, just a head of towy hair, which was
thick enough, however, to protect him against summer's
sun or winter's cold. The upper part of his body was
arrayed in a blue serge shirt, very much open at the neck;
while below his waist, and extending to within nine inches
of his bare feet, where they ended in ragged capes and
promontories like a map of Norway, he wore a pair of
pants. It would have been difficult, indeed, to have
guessed at the original colour of these pants, but they were
now a kind of tawny brindle, and that is the nearest I
can get to it. They were suspended by one brace, a
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS.
bright red one, so broad that it must have belonged to his
father. I think the boy was rather proud than otherwise
of this suspender, although it had a disagreeable trick of
sliding down over his shoulder and causing some momen-
tary disarrangement of his attire. But Ransey just
hooked it back into its place again with his thumb, and
all was right, till the next time.
A rough little tyke you might have called Ransey
Tansey, with his sun-burnt face, neck, and bosom. Yet
there was something that was rather pleasing than other-
wise in his clear eyes and open countenance; and when
his red and rather thin lips parted in a smile, which they
very often did, he showed a set of teeth as clean and white
as those of a six-months-old St. Bernard puppy, and you
cannot better that.
Had this little lad been a town boy, hands and face and
feet would have been far from clean; but Ransey lived
away down in the cool, green country, in a midland
district of Merrie England, and being as often in the water
as a duck, he was just as clean as one.
Away went Ransey Tansey now, and opened a rough
old door in a rock which formed part of the hill by the
side of which the humble cottage stood. The door opened
into a kind of cave, which was a storehouse for all kinds
He was soon back again, and in five minutes' time had
lit the fire, swept the hearth as tidily as a girl could have
done it, and hung the kettle on a hook and chain. By
this time another member of this small family came in, a
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS
very large and handsome tabby cat with a white chest
and vandyked face.
Murrams, as he was called, was holding his head very
high indeed. In fact he had to, else the nice young
leveret he carried would have trailed on the ground. Bob
jumped up to meet him, with joy in his brown eyes.
Had Bob possessed a tail of any consequence, he would
have wagged it. Bob's tail, however, was a mere stump,
and it was quite buried in the rough, shaggy coat that
hung over his rump. But though honest Bob had only
the fag-end of a tail, so to speak, he agitated this con-
siderably when pleased.
He did so when he saw that leveret.
"Oh, you clever old Murrams Bob seemed to say.
"What a nice drop of soup that'll make, and all the bones
for me !"
Murrams walked gingerly past him, and throwing the
leveret on the hearth, proceeded to wash his face and
warm his nose at the blaze.
Ransey put away the young hare, patted pussy on his
broad, sleek forehead, then took down a long tin can to
go for the morning's milk. He left the door open, because
he knew that if Babs should awake and scramble out of her
cot, she would toddle right out to clutch at wild flowers,
beetles, and other things, instead of going towards the fire.
Ransey Tansey happened to look round when he was
about thirty yards from the cottage. Why, here was Bob
coming softly up behind. Murrams himself couldn't have
walked more silently.
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS
His ears disappeared backwards when he was found
out, and he looked very guilty indeed.
Ransey Tansey shook his finger at him.
"Back ye goes-back ye goes to look after Babs"
Bob lay down to plead.
"It ain't no go, Bob, I tell ye," continued Ransey
Tansey, still shaking his finger. "Back to Babs, Bob-
back to Babs. We can't both on us leave the house at
the same time."
This latter argument was quite convincing, and back
marched Bob, with drooping head and with that fag-end
of a tail of his drooping earthwards also.
There grew on the top of the bank a solitary brown-
stemmed pine-tree. Very, very tall it was, with not a
branch all the way up save a very strong horizontal limb,
which was used to hang people from in the happy days of
old. The top of this tree was peculiar. It spread straight
out on all sides, forming a kind of flat table of darkest
green needled foliage. Had you been sketching this tree,
then, after doing the stem, you could easily have rubbed
in the top of it by dipping your little finger in ink and
smudging the paper crosswise.
When not far from this gibbet-tree, as it was generally
called, Ransey looked up and hailed,-
"Ship ahoy! Are ye on board, Admiral ?"
And now a somewhat strange thing happened. No
sooner had the boy hailed than down from a mass of
central foliage there suddenly hung what, at first sight,
one might have taken for a snake.
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS
It was really a bird's long neck.
"All right," cried Ransey, as if he understood every
word. Ye mebbe don't see nuthin' o' father, do ye ?"
"Well, ye needn't flop down, Admiral. I'll come up
No lamplighter ever ran quicker up a ladder than did
Ransey Tansey swarm up that pine-tree. In little over
two minutes he was right out on the green roof, and
beside him one of the most graceful and beautiful cranes
it is possible to imagine. The boy's father had bought
the bird from a sailor somewhere down the country; and,
except on very stormy nights, it preferred to roost in this
tree. The neck was a greyish blue, as was also the back;
the wings were. dark, the legs jet black, the tail purple.
Around the eyes was a broad patch of crimson; and the
bill was as long as a penholder, more or less slender,
and slightly curved downwards at the end.*
The Admiral did all he could to express the pleasure he
felt at seeing the boy, by a series of movements that I
find it difficult to describe. The wings were half ex-
tended and quivering with delight, the neck forming a
series of beautiful curves, the head at times high in air,
and next moment down under Ransey's chin. Then he
twisted his neck right round the boy's neck, from left to
right, then from right to left, the head being laid lovingly
each time against his little master's cheek.
A species of what is popularly known as the dancing crane.
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS.
"Now then, Admiral, when ye're quite done cuddlin' of
me, we'll have a look for father's barge."
From his elevated coign of vantage, Ransey Tansey
could see for many miles all around him. On this bright,
sunny summer morn, it was a landscape of infinite beauty;
an undulating, well-wooded, cultivated country, green and
beautiful everywhere, except in the west, where a village
sheltered itself near the horizon, nestling in a cloudland of
trees, from which the grey flat tower of a church looked up.
To the left yonder, and near to the church, was a long
strip of silver-the canal. High on a wooded hill stood
the lord of the manor's house, solid, brown, and old, with
the blue smoke therefrom trailing lazily along across 'the
But the house nearest to Ransey's was some distance
across the fields yonder--an old-fashioned brick farm-
building with a stealing behind it, every bit of it green
"So ye can't see no signs o' father, or the barge, eh ?
Look again, Admiral; your neck's a bit longer'n mine."
"Well, I'm off down. There's the milk to fetch yet;
and if I don't hurry up, Bob and Babs are sure to make
a mess on't afore I gets back. Morning' to ye, Admiral."
And Ransey Tansey slid down that tree far more
quickly even than he had swarmed up it.
Scattering the dew from the grass and the milk-white
clover with his naked feet, the lad went trotting on, and
very quickly reached the farm. He had to stop once or
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS.
twice by the way, however. First, Towsey, the short
horned bull, put his great head over a five-barred gate, and
Ransey had to pause to scratch it. Then he met the
peacock, who insisted on instant recognition, and walked
back with him till the two were met by Snap, the curly-
"I don't like Snap," said the peacock. "I won't go a
bit further. The ugly brute threatened to snap my head
off; that's the sort of Snap he is."
The farmer's wife was fat and jolly looking.
Well, how's all the family ?"
"Oh, they're all right, ye know; especially Babs, 'cause
she's asleep. And we kind of expect father to-day. But
even the Admiral can't see 'im, with his long neck"
She filled his can, and took the penny. That was only
business; but the kindly soul had slyly slipped two turkey's
eggs into the can before she poured in the milk.
When he got back to his home, the first thing he saw was
that crane, half hopping, half flying round and round the
gibbet-tree. The fact of the matter is this: the bird did
not wish to go far away from the house just yet, as he
generally followed his little master to the brook or stream;
but, nevertheless, on this particularly fine morning he
found himself possessed of an amount of energy that must
be expended somehow, so he went hopping round the tree,
dangling his head and long neck in the drollest and most
ridiculous kind of way imaginable. Ransey Tansey had
to place his milk-can on the ground in order to laugh with
greater freedom. The most curious part of the business
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS
was this: crane though he was, wheeling madly round
like this made him dizzy, so every now and then he
stopped and danced round the other way.
The Admiral caught flies wherever he saw them; but
flies, though all very well in their way, were mere tit-bits.
Presently he would have a few frogs for breakfast, and
the bird was just as fond of frogs as a Frenchman is.
Ransey Tansey opened the door of the little cottage
very quietly, and peeped in. Bob was there by the
bassinette. He agitated that fag-end of a tail of his, and
Murrams paused in the act of washing his ears, with
one paw held aloft. He began to sing, because he knew
right well there was milk in that can, and that he would
have a share of it.
Babs's blue eyes had been on the smoke-grimed ceiling,
but she lowered them now.
"Oh," she said, "you's tome back, has 'oo ?"
"And Babs has been so good, hasn't she?" said Ransey.
"Babs is dood, and Bob is dood, and Murrams is dooder.
'Ift [lift] me up twick, 'Ansey."
Two plump little arms were extended towards her
brother, and presently he was seated near the fire dressing
her; as if he had been to the manner born.
There was a little face to wash presently, as well as
two tiny hands and arms; but that could be done after
they had all had breakfast.
"Oh, my!" cried Ransey Tansey; "look, Babs! Two
turkey's eggs in the bottom of the can I"
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS
"Oh, my 'Ansey," echoed the child. "One tu'key's
egg fo' me, and one fo' 'oo."
The door had been left half ajar, and presently about a
yard of long neck was thrust round the edge, and the
Admiral looked lovingly at the eggs, first with one roguish
eye, then with the other.
This droll crane had a weakness for eggs-strange,
perhaps, but true. When he found one, he tossed it high
in air, and in descending caught it cleverly. Next second
there was an empty egg-shell on the ground, and some
kind of a lump sliding slowly down the Admiral's extended
gullet. When it was fairly landed, the bird expressed his
delight by dancing a double-triple fandango, which was
partly jig, partly hornpipe, and all the rest a Highland
"Get out, Admiral !-get out, I tell ye!" cried the boy.
"W'y, ye stoopid, if the door slams, off goes yer head."
The bird seemed to fully appreciate the danger, and at
Ransey placed the two turkey's eggs on a shelf near
the little gable window. One pane of glass was broken,
and was stuffed with hay.
Well, the Admiral had been watching the boy, and as
soon as his back was turned, it didn't take the bird long
to pull out that hay.
0 'Ansey, 'ook 'ook!" cried Babs.
It was too late, however, for looking to do any good.
For the same yard of neck that had, a few minutes before,
appeared round the edge of the doorway, was now thrust
TWO MITHERLESS BAIRNS 21
through the broken pane, and only one turkey's egg was
Babs looked very sad. She considered for a bit, then
"'Oo mus' have the odel [other] tu'key's egg. You is
dooder nor me."
But Ransey didn't have it. He contented himself with
bread and milk.
And so the two mitherless bairns had breakfast
LIFE IN THE WOODS.
I TRUST that, from what he has already seen and
heard of Ransey Tansey, the reader will not imagine
I desire this little hero of mine to pose as a real saint.
Boys should be boys while they have the chance. Alas,
they shall grow up into men far too soon, and then they
needn't go long journeys to seek for sorrow; they will
find it near home.
And now I think, reader, you and I understand each
other, to some extent at all events. Though I believe
he was always manly and never mean, yet, as his biog-
rapher, I am bound to confess that there was just as
much monkey-mischief to the square inch about Ransey
Tansey, as about any boy to whom I have ever had the
honour of being introduced.
It was said of the immortal George Washington that
when a boy at school he climbed out of a bedroom
window and robbed a wall fruit tree, because the other
boys were cowards and afraid to do so. But George
refused to eat even a bite of one of these apples himself.
I think that Ransey Tansey could have surpassed young
LIFE IN THE WOODS
Washington; for not only would he have taken the apples,
but eaten his own share of them afterwards.
To do him justice, however, I must state that on
occasions when his father went in the barge to a distant
town on business, as he had been now for over a week,
Ransey being left in charge of his tiny sister and the
whole establishment, the sense of his great responsibility
kept him entirely free from mischief.
Now a very extraordinary thing happened on this par-
ticular morning-Ransey Tansey received a letter.
The postman was sulky, to say the least of it.
"Pretty thing," he said, as he flung the letter with
scant ceremony in through the open doorway; "pretty
thing as I should have to come three-quarters of a mile
round to fetch a letter to the likes o' you I"
"Now, look 'ee here," said Ransey, "if ye're good and
brings my letters every day, and hangs yer stocking' out
at Christmas-time, I may put something' in it."
"Gur long, ye ragged young nipper!"
Ransey was dandling Babs upon his knee, but he now
put her gently down beside the cat. Then he jumped up.
"I'se got to teach you a lesson," he said to the boorish
postman, "on the advantages o' civeelity. I ain't agoin'
to waste a good pertater on such a sconce as yours, don't
be afeard; but 'ere's an old turmut [turnip] as'll meet
the requirements o' the occasion."
It was indeed an old turnip, and well aimed too, for
it caught the postman on the back of the neck, and
covered him with slush from head to toe.
LIFE IN THE WOODS
The lout yelled with rage, and flew at Ransey stick
in hand. Next moment, and before he could deal the
boy a blow, he was lying flat on the grass, with Bob
standing triumphantly over him growling like a wild
Call off yer dog, and I won't say no more about it."
"Oh, ye won't, won't ye? I calls that wery con-
siderate. But look 'ee here, I ain't agoin' to call Bob
off, until ye begs my parding in a spirit o' humility, as
told parson says. If ye don't, I'll hiss Bob on to ye,
and ye'll be a raggeder nipper nor me afore Bob's finished
the job to his own satisfaction."
Well, discretion is the better part of valour, and after
grumbling out an apology, the postman was allowed to
sneak off with a whole skin.
Then Bansey kissed Bob's shaggy head, and opened his
"DEAR SONNIE,-Can't get home before four days.
Look after Babs. YOUR LOVING FATHER"
That was all. The writing certainly left something to
be desired, but it being the first letter the boy had ever
received, he read it twice over to himself and twice over
to .Babs; then he put it away inside his New Testament.
- "Hurrah, Babs !" he cried, picking the child up again,
and swinging her to and fro till she laughed and kicked
and crowed with delight-" hurrah, Babs! well all away
to the woods. Murrams shall keep house, and we'll take
our dinner with us."
LIFE IN THE WOODS
It was a droll procession. First walked Bob, looking
extremely solemn and wise, and carrying Ransey's fishing-
rod. Close behind him came the tall and graceful crane,
not quite so solemn as Bob; for he was catching flies, and
his head and neck were in constant motion, and every now
and then he would hop, first on one leg, and then on the
other. Ransey Tansey himself brought up the rear,
with a small bag slung in front of him, and Babs in a
shawl on his back.
Away to the woods ? Yes; and there was a grand little
stream there, and the boy knew precisely where the biggest
fish lay, and meant to have some for supper. The leveret
could hang for a few days.
Arrived at his fishing-ground, where the stream swept
slowly through the darkling wood, Ransey lowered his
back-burden gently on the moss, and lay down on his
face in front of her to talk Babs into the best of tempers
This was not difficult to do, for she was really a good-
natured child; so he gave her his big clasp-knife and
his whistle, and proceeded to get his rod in order and
make a cast. Bob lay down beside the tiny mite to guard
her. She could whistle herself, but couldn't get Bob to
do the same, although she rammed the whistle halfway
down his throat, and afterwards showed him how she
Well, there are a few accomplishments that dogs cannot
attain to, and I believe whistling is one of them.
The fish were very kind to-day, and Ransey was making
a very good bag. Whenever he had finished fishing in
LIFE IN THE WOODS.
about forty yards of stream, he threw down his rod and
trotted off back for Babs, and placed her down about
twenty yards ahead of him, fished another forty yards
and changed her position again, Bob always following
close at the boy's heels and lying down beside his charge,
and permitting himself to be pulled about, and teased,
and cuddled, and kissed one moment, and hammered over
the nose with that tin whistle the next. Even when Babs
tried to gouge his eye out with a morsel of twig, he only
lifted his head and licked her face till, half-blinded, she
had to drop the stick and tumble on her back.
"You's a funny dog, Bob," she said; "'oor tisses is so
Of course they were. He meant them to be, for Bob
couldn't afford to lose an eye.
I think the Admiral enjoyed himself quite as much
as any one. He chose a bit of the stream for himself
where the bank was soft, and there he waded and fished
for goodness only knows what-beetles, minnows, tiny
frogs, anything alive and easy to swallow.
I don't think, however, that the Admiral was a very
good judge of his swallowing capabilities. That neck of
his was so very, very long, and though distensible enough
on the whole, sometimes he encountered difficulties that it
was almost impossible to surmount. Tadpoles slid down
easily enough, so did flies and other tiny insects; but a
too-big frog, if invited to go down head-foremost, often
had a disagreeable way of throwing his hind legs out
at right angles to the entrance of the Admiral's gullet.
LIFE IN THE WOODS.
This placed the Admiral in a somewhat awkward pre-
dicament. No bird can look his best with its beak held
forcibly agape, and the two legs of a disorderly frog
sticking out one at each side.
The crane would hold his head in the air and consider
for a bit, then lower his face against the bank and rub
one leg in, then change cheeks and rub the other in;
but lo! while doing so, leg number one would be kicked
out again, and by the time that was replaced out shot
leg number two.
It was very annoying and ridiculous. So the Admiral
would step cautiously on to the green bank, and stride
very humbly down the stream to Ransey Tansey, with his
neck extended and his head on a level with his shoulders.
"You see the confounded fix I'm in," he would say,
looking up at his master with one wonderfully wise eye.
Then Ransey would pull out the frog, and the little
rascal would hop away, laughing to himself apparently.
"Crok--crok--cray--ay the Admiral would cry, and
go joyfully back to his fishing-ground.
But sometimes Mr. Crane would swallow a big water-
beetle, and if this specimen had a will of its own, as
beetles generally have, it would catch hold of the side
of the gullet and hang on halfway down.
"I ain't going another step," the beetle would say; "it
isn't good enough. The road is too long and too dark."
So this disobliging beetle would just stop there, making
a kind of a mump in the poor Admiral's neck.
When Ransey saw his droll pet stride out of the pool
LIFE IN THE WOODS.
and walk solemnly towards a tree and lean his head against
it, and close his eyes, the lad knew pretty well what was
There is nothing like patience and plenty of it, and
presently the beetle would go to sleep, relax its hold,
and slip quietly down to regions unknown. There would
be no more mump now, and the crane would suddenly
take leave of his senses with joy.
"Kaik-kaik-kay-ay !" he would scream, and go
madly hopping and dancing round the tree, a most weird
and uncanny-looking object, raising one leg at a time as
high as he could, and swinging his head and neck fore
and aft, low and aloft, from starboard to port, in such
a droll way that Ransey Tansey felt impelled to throw
himself on his back, so as to laugh without bursting that
much-prized solitary suspender of his, while Bob sat up to
bark, and Babs clapped her tiny hands and crowed.
Ransey got tired of fishing at last, and made up his rod.
There was some sort of silent joy or happiness away down
at the bottom of the boy's heart, and for a moment he
couldn't make out what was causing it. The big haul
of fish he had caught? Oh, no; that was a common
exploit. Having smashed the postman with a mushy
turnip? That was capital, of course, but that wasn't it.
Ahl now he has remembered-father was coming home
in four days. Hurrah! he must have some fun on the
head of it. Ransey loved to have a good time.
But, duty first. Babs was a good little girl-or a
LIFE IN THE WOODS.
" dood littlee dirl," as she phrased it-but even good girls
get hungry sometimes. Babs must be fed. She held her
arms straight out towards him.
"Babs is getting tired," she lisped.
So he took her up, kissed her, and made much of her
for a minute, then set her against a tree where the moss
was green and soft. With a bit of string and a burdock
leaf he made her a beautiful bib; for though Ransey
himself was scantily attired, the child was really prettily
And now the boy produced a pickle bottle from the
luncheon bag, likewise a small horn spoon. The pickle
bottle contained a pap of bread and milk; and with this
he proceeded to feed Babs somewhat after the manner
of cramming turkeys, until she shook her head at last,
and declared she would never eat any more-" Never,
There was a turnip-field not far off. Now Bob was
as fond of raw turnips as his master. He knew where
the field was, too.
"Off ye go for a turmut, Bob; and mind ye bring a
big 'un. I'll look after Babs till ye comes back."
Bob wasn't long gone. He had obeyed his master's
instructions to the very letter-in fact, he had pulled
more than six turnips before he found one to please
him.* That "turmut" made Bob and Ransey an excellent
luncheon, and Babe had a slice to amuse herself with
It is easy to teach a dog this trick, only stupid farmer folks sometimes
don't see the fun of it. Farmer folks are obtuse.-G. S.
LIFE IN THE WOODS.
The day was delightfully warm, and the wind soft
and balmy. The sunshine filtered down through a great
beech-tree, and wherever it fell the grass was a brighter
green or the dead leaves a lighter brown. Now and then
a May beetle would go droning past; there were flies of
all sorts and sizes, from the gnats that danced in thou-
sands over the bushes to the great rainbow-like dragon-
fly that darted hither and thither across the stream;
grasshoppers green and brown that alighted on a leaf
one moment, gave a click the next, and hurled them-
selves into space; a blackbird making wild melody not
far off; the bold lilt of a chaffinch; the insolent mocking
notes of a thrush; and the coo-cooing of wood-pigeons
sounding mournfully from a thicket beyond the stream.
High up in that beech-tree myriads of bees were
humming, though they could not be seen. No wonder
that- under such sweet drowsy influences Babs began to
wink and wink, and blink and blink, till finally her wee
head fell forward on her green-bough bib.
Babs was sound asleep.
"0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
RANSEY TANSEY took his tiny sister tenderly up
and spread her, as it were, on the soft moss.
"She's in for a regular forenooner, Bob," said the boy,
"and I'm not sure I don't like Babs just as well when she
is asleep. Seems so innercent-like, you know."
Bob looked as if he really did understand, and tried by
means of his brown eyes and that fag-end of a tail to
let his master know that he too liked Babs best asleep,
because then no attempts were made to gouge his eyes
out with pieces of stick, or to ram the business end of a
tin whistle half-way down his throat.
"Bob !" said Ransey.
"Yes, master," said Bob, raising his ears.
"Babs is a sailor's darter, ye know."
"Well, she ought'er sleep in a hammock."
"To be sure.. I hadn't thought of that:' said Bob.
"I can make one in a brace o' shakes, and that's sailor
langwidge. Now just keep your eyes on me, Bob."
Ransey Tansey was busy enough for the next five minutes.
32 "O EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
He took that shepherd-tartan shawl, and by means of
some pieces of string, which he never went abroad without,
soon fashioned it into a neat little hammock. Two saplings
grew near, and by bending a branch downward from each,
he slung that hammock so prettily that he was obliged to
stand back for a little while to smile and admire it.
When he lifted Babs and put her in it, and fastened
the two sides of the hammock across her chest with some
more string and a horse-shoe nail, so that she could not
fall out, the whole affair was complete.
Hsh-a-bye, baby, upon the tree-top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rook."
Well, the wind did blow, but ever so softly, and the
little hammock swayed gently to and fro. And the black-
bird's voice seemed to sound more melodiously now; the
thrush went farther away; only the wild pigeons continued
to coo, coo, and the bees to hum, high, high up in the
No wonder that the baby slept.
"Come along now, Bob. We've a whole hour at least."
The boy placed his rod and bag on the branches of a
"A whole hour, Bob, to do as we likes. No good me
askin' that idiot of an Admiral to watch Babs. He'd only
begin scray-scrayin' and hopping around the hammock,
and Babs would wake. I'm goin' to run wild for a bit,
are you ?"
And off he bounded, with Bob at his heels.
"0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
The Admiral, whose feet were getting cold now, hopped
out of the stream, stretched out his three-foot neck, and
looked after them.
"They think they're going to leave me behind, do they ?
Tok-tok-tok (which in craneish language means "No
So away he went next, with his head and his long neck
about a yard in front of him, and his wings expanded.
It would have puzzled any one to have told whether the
Admiral was running or flying.
If Ransey Tansey climbed one tree he climbed a dozen.
Ransey walked through the wood with upturned face, and
whenever he saw a nest, whether it belonged to mag-
pie, hawk, or hooded crow, skywards he went to have
a look at it.
He liked to look at the eggs best, and sometimes he
brought just one down in his mouth if four were left
behind, because, he thought, one wouldn't be missed. But
even this was sinful; for although birds are not very good
arithmeticians, every one of them can count as far as the
number of its eggs-even a partridge or a wren can.
Sometimes the Admiral wanted to investigate the nests,
but Ransey sternly forbade him. He might dance round
the tree as much as he liked, but he must not fly up.
Bob used to bark at his master as he climbed up and
up. Indeed, when perched on the very, very top of a tall
larch-tree Ransey himself didn't look much bigger than
Yet I think the ever-abiding sorrow with Bob was not
34 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
that he had not a tail worth talking about, but that he
could not climb a tree.
Different birds behaved in different ways when Ransey
visited their nests. Thus: a linnet or a robin, flying from
its sweet, cosy little home in a bush of orange-scented
furze, would sit and sing at no great distance in a half-
hysterical kind of way, as if it really didn't know what it
was about. A blackbird from a tall thorn-tree or baby
spruce, would go scurrying off, and make the woods resound
with her cries of "beet, beet, beet," till other birds, crouch-
ing low on their nests, trembled with fear lest their turn
might come next. A hooded crow would fly off some dis-
tance and perch on a tree, but say nothing: hooded crows
are philosophers. A magpie went but a little distance
away, and sat nodding and chickering in great distress.
A hawk would course round and round in great circles
in the air, uttering every now and then a most distressful
But one day, I must tell you, a large hawk played the lad
a very mischievous trick. Ransey was high up near the top
of a tall, stone-pine-tree, and had hold of a sturdy branch
above, being just about to swing himself in through the
needled foliage, when, lo I the stump on which one foot was
resting gave way, leaving him suspended betwixt heaven
and earth, like Mohammed's coffin-and kicking too, because
he could not for some time swing himself into the tree.
Now that hawk needn't have been so precious nasty
about it. But he saw his chance, and went for Ransey
straight; and the more the boy shouted at the hawk, and
" 0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
cried "Hoosh-oo I" at him, the more that hawk wouldn't
leave off. He tore the boy's shirt and back, and cut his
suspender right through, so that with the kicking and
struggling his poor little pants came off and fluttered down
to the ground.
Ransey Tansey was only second best that day, and
when--a sadder and a wiser boy-he reached the foot of
the tree, he found that Bob had been engaged in funeral
rites-obsequies-for some time. In fact, he had scraped
a hole beneath a furze bush and buried Ransey's pants.
Whether Bob had thought this was all that remained
of his master or not, I cannot say. I only state facts.
But to hark back: after Ransey Tansey had seen all the
nests he wanted to see, he and his two companions rushed
off to a portion of the wood where, near the bank of the
stream, he kept his toy ship under a moss-covered boulder.
He had built this ship, fashioning her out of a pine-
log with his knife, and rigged her all complete as well
as his somewhat limited nautical knowledge permitted
him to do. In Ransey's eyes she was a beauty-with-
Before he launched her to-day he looked down at Bob
and across at the Admiral, who was quite as tall as the
"We're going on a long and dangerous voyage, Bob,"
he said. There's no sayin' wot may happen. We may run
among rocks and get smashed; we may get caught-aback-
like and flounder "-he meant founder-" or go down wi'
all han's in the Bay o' Biscay-O."
36 "O EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
Bob tried to appear as solemn and sad as the occasion
demanded, and let his fag-end drop groundwards.
But the crane only said "Tok," which on this occasion
meant "All humbug!" for he knew well enough that
Ransey Tansey was seldom to be taken seriously.
Never mind, the barque was launched on the fathomless
deep, the summer breeze filled her sails-which, by the
way, had been made out of a piece of an old shirt of the
boy's father's-and she breasted the billows like a thing
Then as those three young inseparables rushed madly
and delightedly along the bank to keep abreast of the
ship, never surely was such whooping and barking and
scray-scraying heard in the woods before.
But disaster followed in the wake of that bonnie barque
on this voyage. I suppose the helmsman forgot to put his
helm up at an ugly bend of the river, so the wind caught
her dead aback. She flew ster-foremost through the
water at a furious rate, then her bows rose high in air,
she struggled but for a moment ere down she sank to rise
no more, and all on board must have perished!
When I say she sank to rise no more I am hardly in
alignment with the truth.
The fact is, that although Ransey Tansey could easily
have made another ship with that knife of his, he was
afraid he could not requisition some more shirt for sails.
Oh, I ain't agoin' to lose her like that, Bob," said Ransey.
Bob was understood to say that he wouldn't either.
"Admiral, ye're considerabul longer nor me in the legs
" 0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
and neck; couldn't ye wade out and make a dive for
The crane only said, "Tok "
By this time Ransey was undressed.
"Hoop I" he cried, "here goes," and in he dived.
"Wowff!" cried Bob," here's for after," and in he sprang
"Kaik-kaik!" shrieked the crane, and followed his
leader, but he speedily got out again. The water was
deep, and as a swimmer the Admiral was somewhat of a
But the barque was raised all and whole, and after a
good swim Ransey and Bob returned to the bank. Bob
shook himself, making little rainbows all round him, and
the boy rolled in the moss till he was dry, but stained
Then he dressed himself, and looked at his watch-that
is, he looked at the sun.
"Why, Bob," he cried, "it is time to go back to Babs."
It was such a lovely forenoon that day that the elderly
Miss Scragley thought a walk in the woods and wilds-
as she phrased it-would do her good. So she took her
little six-year-old niece Eedie with her, and started.
The butler wanted to know if he would send a groom
with her. But she declined the service.
"It is ever so much better," she told Eedie, "going all
alone and enjoying things, than having a dressed-up doll
of a flunkey dawdling behind you carrying wraps."
38 "0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
I think Miss Scragley was right.
The Scragleys were a very old family, and that was
their mansion I have already mentioned as standing high
up on the hill in a cloudland of glorious trees. But
excepting Miss Scragley herself, and this little niece, Miss
Eedie Moore, the rest of the Scragleys were all dead and
Though the family estates were intact and financially
secure, afflictions of all sorts had decimated the Scragleys.
No less than two had died on the hunting-field; one, a
soldier, had fallen on the field of fame in far Afghanistan;
another, a captain in the royal navy, had succumbed to
fever at sea; and still another had sailed away in a ship
that never returned.
Others had died in peace and at home. So Miss Scragley
was indeed a relic of the past, but she was lord of the
manor for the time being. Her heart was bound up in
little Eedie; and the girl would have to change her name
when of age, as she would then be heir to all the Scragley
estates. Even if she married, her husband must become a
Scragley. It would never do to let the glorious name of
Scragley die out.
But Miss Scragley was somewhat antiquated though not
very old; somewhat set up and starchy in manner too.
She preferred to import good people from London to mix-
ing with the residents around, with the exception of the
kindly-faced, white-haired old rector, Captain Weathereye,
R.N., and Dr. Fairincks.
In bygone ages it was currently believed that this
" 0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
rough old sea-dog of a captain, Weathereye, would lead the
then graceful Miss Scragley to the altar, and the lady
herself still believed that the happy event would yet
And she was quite gay when she thought of it. At
Christmas time, when she imported more good people from
London than usual, and turned on the family ghost for
the occasion, when she had the special brand of port
decanted that old Weathereye so dearly loved, and when
Scragley Hall resounded with mirth and laughter, and was
lighted up from basement to attics, Miss Scragley nursed
the fond hope that the captain was almost sure to pop the
Old Captain Weathereye praised the port. But-well,
he loved to hear corks popping, only he wouldn't pop himself.
Poor Miss Scragley I
"I wonder will he ever she used to remark to herself,
when she had finished saying her prayers and was preparing
to undress-" ever-ever ? "
Never-never," old Weathereye would have unfeelingly
replied had he heard her.
On this particular occasion Miss Scragley extended her
walk far into the very wood-forest, she romantically
called it-where Ransey Tansey and his pets were enjoying
She and her niece wandered on and on by the banks of
the stream, till they came to the place where little Babs
lay, still sound asleep in her hammock, and this was sway-
ing gently to and fro in the summer wind.
40 "O EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD."
"0 Eedie!" cried Miss Scragley, "why, I've found a
Oh, the wee darling !" exclaimed Eedie; "mayn't I kiss
it, auntie ?"
"If you kissed it," said the lady, as if she knew all
about babies and could write a book about them-"if you
kissed it, dear, it would awake, and the creature's yells
would resound through the dark depths of the forest."
"But there is no one near," she continued; "it must be
deserted by its unfeeling parents, and left here to perish."
She went a little nearer now and looked down on the
sleeping child's face.
A very pretty face it was, the rosy lips parted, the
flush of sleep upon her face; and one wee chubby hand
and arm was lying bare on the shawl.
"Oh dear!" cried Miss Scragley, "I feel strangely
agitated. I cannot let the tiny angel perish in the silvan
gloom. I must--you must, Eedie-well, we must, dear,
carry it home with us."
"Oh, will ye, though ?" The voice was close behind
her. "Just you leave Babs alone, and attend to yer own
bizness, else Bob will have something' till say to ye."
Miss Scragley started, as well she might.
"Oh," she cried, looking round now, "an absurd little
gipsy boy I"
"Yes," said Ransey Tansey, touching his forelock, "and
I'm sorry for bein' so absurd. And ashamed all-so. If a
rabbit's hole was handy, I'd soon pop in. But, bless yer
beautiful ladyship, if I'd known I was to 'ave the perleasure
"0 EEDIE, I'VE FOUND A CHILD." 41
o' meeting' quality, I'd 'ave put on my dress soot, and
carried my crush hat under my arm."
"Don't be afeard, mum," he continued, as the crane
came hopping out of the bush. "That's only just the
Admiral; and this is Bob, as would die for me or Babs."
"And who is Babs, you droll boy ? "
"Babs is my baby, and no one else's 'cept Bob's. And
Bob and I would make it warm for anybody as tried to
take Babs away. Wouldn't us, Bob ?"
Just then his little sister awoke, all smiles and dimples
Ransey Tansey went to talk to her, and for a time the
boy forgot all the world except Babs.
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON."
H, I'se glad 'oo's tome back, 'Ansey. Has I been
afeep [asleep], 'Ansey?"
"Oh, yes; and how I'm goin' to feed Babs, and Babs'll
lie and look at the trees till I cook dinner for Bob and me."
"That wady [lady] won't take Babs away, 'Ansey ?"
"No, Babs, no."
Ransey Tansey fed Babs once more from the pickle bottle
with the horn spoon, much to Miss Scragley's and little
Eedie's astonishment and delight.
Then he commenced to build a fire at a little distance,
and laid out some fish all ready to cook as soon as the
blazing wood should die down to red embers.
"You're a very interesting boy," said Mis. Scragley
politely. May I look on while you cook?"
"Oh, yes, mum. Sorry I ain't got a chair to offer ye."
"And oh, please, interesting boy," begged Eedie, "may
I talk to Babs ?"
"Cer-tain-lee, pretty missie.-Babsie, sweet," he
added, talk to this beautiful young lady."
"There's no charge for sitting' on the grass, mum," said
Ransey the next minute.
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON." 43
And down sat Miss Seragley smiling.
The boy proceeded with the preparation of the meal in
real gipsy fashion. He cooked fish, and he roasted pota-
toes. He hadn't forgotten the salt either, nor a modicum of
butter in a piece of paper, nor bread; and as he and Bob
made a hearty dinner, he gave every now and then the
sweetest of tit-bits to Babs.
Eedie and the child got on beautifully together.
May I ask you a question or two, you most interesting
boy ?" said Miss Scragley.
"Oh, yes, if ye're quite sure ye ain't the gamekeeper's
wife. The keeper turned me out of the wood once. Bob
wasn't there that day."
"Well, Im sure I'm not the gamekeeper's wife. I am
Miss Scragley of Scragley Hall."
The boy was wiping his fingers and his knife with
"I wish I had a cap on," he said.
"So as I could take her off and make a bow," he
And what is your name, curious boy ?"
Ransey; that's my front name."
"But your family name ?"
Ain't got ne'er a family, 'cepting Babs."
But you have a surname-another name, you know."
Ransey Tansey all complete. There."
And where do you live, my lad ? "
"Me and Babs and Bob and Murrams all lives, when
44 "RANSE Y FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON"
we're to home, at Hangman's Hall; and father lives there,
too, when 'ee's to home; and the Admiral, yonder, he roosts
in the gibbet-tree."
And what does father do ?"
Oh, father's a capting."
A captain, dear boy ?"
"No, he's not a boy, but a man, and capting of the
Merry Maiden, a canal barge, mum. An' we all goes to
sea sometimes together, 'cepting Murrams, our pussy, and
the Admiral We have such fun; and I ride Jim the
canal hoss, and Babs laughs nearly all the time."
So you're very happy all of you, and always were ?"
"Oh, yes-'cepting when father sometimes took too
much rum; but that's a hundred years ago, more or less,
"Poor lad t Have you a mother ?"
"Oh, yes, we has a mother, but only she's gone dead.
The parson said she'd gone to heaven; but I don't know,
you know. Wish she'd come back, though," he added
with a sigh.
I'm so sorry," said Miss Scragley, patting his hand.
Oh, don't ye do that, mum, and don't talk kind to me,
else I'll cry. I feels the tears acomin' now. Nobody
ever, ever talks kindly to me and Babs when at home,
'cepting father, in course, 'cause we're on'y common canal
folks and outcasts from serciety."
Ransey Tansey was very earnest. Miss Scragley had
really a kind heart of her own, only she couldn't help
smiling at the boy's language.
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOING' ON." 45
"Who told you so ?"
"W'y, the man as opens the pews."
"Oh, you've been to church, then ?"
"Oh, yes; went the other Sunday. Had nuthin' better
to do, and thought I'd give Babs a treat."
"And did you go in those-clothes ?"
"Well, mum, I couldn't go with nuthin' on--could I,
now? An' the pew-man just turned us both out. But
Babs was so good, and didn't cry a bit till she got out.
Then I took her away through the woods to hear the
birds sing; and mebbe God was there too, 'cause mother
said He was everywhere."
"Yes, boy, God is everywhere. And where does your
mother sleep, Ransey ?"
"Sleep ? Oh, in heaven. Leastways I s'pose so."
"I mean, where was your gentle mother buried ?"
"Oh, at sea, mum. Sailor's grave, ye know."
Ransey looked very sad just then.
You don't mean in the canal, surely ? "
"Yes, mum. Father wouldn't have it no other way.
I can't forget; 'tain't much more'n a year ago, though
it looks like ten. Father, ye know, 'ad been a long
time in furrin parts afore he was capting o' the
The lad had thrown himself down on the grass at a
respectable distance from Miss Scragley, and his big blue
eyes grew bigger and sadder as he continued his story.
"'Twere jest like this, mum. Mother'd been bad for
weeks and so quiet like, and father so kind, 'cause he
46 "RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOING' ON."
didn't never touch no rum when mother was sick. We
was canal-ing most o' the time; and one night we stopped
at the Bargee's Chorus'--only a little public-house, mum,
as perhaps you wouldn't hardly care to be seen drinking' at.
We stopped here 'cause mother was wuss, and old dad
sent for a doctor; and I put Jim into the meadow.
Soon's the doctor saw poor mother, he sez, sez he, 'Ye'd
better get the parson. No,' he sez, 'I won't charge ye
nuthin' for attendance; it's on'y jest her soul as wants
seeing' to now.'
"Well, mum, the parson came. He'd a nice, kind face
like you has, mum, and he told mother lots, and made her
happy like. Then he said a prayer. I was kind o' dazed,
I dussay; but when mother called us to her, and kissed
me and Babs, and told us she was goin' on to a happier
land, I broke out and cried awful And Babs cried too,
and said, An' me too, ma. Oh, take Babs.'
"Father led us away to the inn, and I jest hear him
say to the parson, 'No, no, sir, no. No parish burial for
me. She's a sailor's wife; she'll rest in a sailor's grave!'
"I don't know, mum, what happened that night and
next day, for me and Babs didn't go on board again.
Only, the evening' carter, when the moon and stars was
ashinin' over the woods and deep down in the watur,
father comes to me.
"'Ransey,' sez father,' fetch Jim; we're goin' on.' And
I goes and- fetches Jim, and yokes him to and mounts; and
father he put Babs up aside me, 'cause Jim's good and
never needs a whip.
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON" 47
"' Go on, Ransey,' sez he, an' steps quietly on board
and takes the tiller.
"Away we went-through the meadows and trees, and
then through a long, quiet moor.
"Father kep' the barge well out, and she looked sailing'
among the stars-which it wasn't the stars, on'y their 'flee-
tion, mum. Well, we was half way through the moor,
and Babs was gone sound asleep 'cross my arm, when I
gives Jim his head and looks back.
An', oh, mum, there was old dad standing' holding' the
tiller wi' one hand. The moon was shining' on his face and
on his hair, which is grey kind, and he kep' looking' up
and sayin' something .
"Then there was a plash. Oh, I knew then it was
dead mother; and-and-I jest let Jim go on-and-
But Ransey's story stopped right here. He was pursing
up his lips and trying to swallow the lump in his throat;
and Miss Scragley herself turned her head away to hide
the moisture in her eyes.
Grief does not stay long at a time in the hearts of
children. It comes there all the same, nevertheless, and
is quite as poignant while it does last as it is in the
breasts of older folks. Children are like the traditional
April day-sunshine and showers.
I think, mum," said Ransey after a while, it is time
for us to bundle and go."
Miss Scragley watched the lad with considerable inter-
48 "RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOING' ON."
est while he struck his little camp. First he scattered the
remains of his fire and ashes carefully, so that there should
be no danger to the wood. Then he prepared to hide his
Did you make that pretty ship ?" said Eedie.
"Oh, yes; I can make beautiful ships and boats, 'cause
I seed lots on 'em w'en father took me to Southampton.
Oh, that seems millions and millions o' years ago. And
ye see, miss," he added, "I'm goin' to be a sailor anyhow,
and sail all over the wide world, like father did, and by-
and-by I'll be rich enough to have a real ship of my own."
"Oh, how nice! And will Babs go with you ?"
"As long as Babs is quite little," he answered, I can't
go to sea at all, 'cause Babs would die like dead mother if
I went away."
He had Babs in his arms by this time, and it was evi-
dent enough that the affection between these two little
canal people was very strong indeed.
Seated on his left shoulder, and hugging Ransey's head
towards her, Babs evidently thought she was in a position
to give a harangue.
She accordingly addressed herself to Eedie:-
My bloder 'Ansey is doin' to drow a big, big man. As
big as dad. My bloder 'Ansey is doin' to be a sailor in
s'ips, and Babs is doin'. 'Oo mufn't [mustn't] take my
bloder away from Babs. 'Oor mudder mufn't, and nobody
Meanwhile her brother was nearly strangled by the
vehemence of her affection. But he gently disengaged
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON" 49
the little arm and set her on the moss once more. He
speedily enveloped her in the shawl, and then hoisted her
on his back.
Next he hung his bag in front, and handed the fishing-
rod to Bob.
"We must all go now, lady."
"Oh, yes, and we too must go. We have to thank you
for a very interesting half-hour."
Ransey wasn't used to such politeness as this little
speech indicated. What to say in reply did not readily
occur to him.
Wish," he said awkwardly and shyly, I could talk as
nice like as you and t'other young lady."
Miss Scragley smiled. She rather liked being thought
a young lady even by a little canal boy like Ransey.
"Oh, you will some day. Can you read?"
"Ye-es Mother taught me to read, and by-and-by
I'll teach Babs like one o'clock. I can read Nick o' the
Woods' and the 'Rev'lations o' St. John;' but Babs likes
'Jack the Giant Killer' better'n the Bible. An' oh," he
added, somewhat proudly, "I got a letter to-day, and I
could read that; and it was to say as how father was
coming' home in four days. And the postman cheeked
us, and shook his head, threat'nin' like, and I threw a
big turmut and broke it"
What broke his head ?"
"Oh, no, mum, only jest the turmut. An' Bob went
after him, and down went postie. Ye would have larfed,
50 "RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON"
Im afraid you're a bad boy sometimes."
"Yes, I feels all over bad-sometimes."
"I like bad boys best," said Eedie boldly, "they're such
"Babs," said Ransey, you'll hang me dead if you hold
"Well, dears, I'm going to come and see you to-morrow,
perhaps, or next day, and bring Babs a pretty toy."
Babs," said the child defiantly, "has dot a dolly bone,
all dressed and boo'ful." This was simply a ham-bone, on
the ball of which Ransey had scratched eyes and a mouth
and a nose, and dressed it in green moss and rags. And
Babs thought nothing could beat that
As she rode off triumphantly on Ransey's back, Babs
looked back, held one bare arm on high, and shouted,
"What strange children!" said Miss Scragley to her
niece. "They're not at all like our little knights of the
gutter down in the village where we visit. This opens
up life to me in quite a new phase. I'm sure Captain
Weathereye would be much interested. There is good
in those poor canal children, dear, only it wants develop-
ing. I wonder how we could befriend them without
appearing officious or obtrusive. Consult the captain, did
you say ?"
"I did not speak at all, aunt."
"Didn't you ? However, that would be best, as you
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON" 51
Miss Scragley did not call at Hangman's Hall next day
-it looked showery; but about twelve o'clock, while
Ransey Tansey was stewing that leveret with potatoes
and a morsel of bacon, and Babs was nursing her dolly-
bone in the bassinette, where Ransey had placed her to be
out of the way, some one knocked sharply and loudly at
The Admiral, swaying aloft in the gibbet-tree, sounded
his tocsin, and Bob barked furiously.
"Down, Bob!" cried Ransey, running to the door. He
half expected the postman.
He was mistaken, however, for there stood a smart but
pale-faced flunkey in a brown coat with gilt buttons.
Now Ransey could never thoroughly appreciate gentle-
men's gentlemen" any more than he could gamekeepers.
The flunkey had a large parcel under his arm, which he
appeared to be rather ashamed of.
Aw !" he began haughtily, "am I right in my conjec-
ture that this is 'Angman's 'All ?"
"Your conjecture," replied Ransey, mimicking the
flunkey's tone and manner, "is about as neah wight as
conjectures gener'ly aw. What may be the naychure of
Aw An' may I enquiah if you are the-the-the
waggamuffin who saw Miss Scwagley in the wood yestah-
"I'm the young gentleman," said Ransey, hitching up
his suspender, who had the honah of 'alf an hours con-
vehsation with the lady. I am Ransey Tansey, Esq.,
52 "RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON"
eldest and only son of Captain Tansey of the Mewwy
Maiden. And," he added emphatically, "this is my dog
Bob uttered a low, ominous growl, and walked round
behind the flunkey on a tour of inspection.
The only comfort the flunkey had at that moment arose
from the fact that his calves were stuffed with hay.
Aw I Beautiful animal, to be shuah. May I ask if
this is the doag that nearly killed the postman fellah ?"
"That's the doag," replied Ransey, "who would have
killed the postman fellah dead out, if I had tipped him
Aw I Well, my business is vewy bwief. Heah is a
pawcel from Miss Scwagley, of which she begs your ac-
Ah, thank you. Dee-lighted. Pray walk in. Sorry
my butler is out at pwesent. But what will you dwink-
sherry, port, champagne-wum ? Can highly wecommend
Oh, thanks. Then I'll have just a spot of wum."
Ransey brought out his father's bottle-a bottle that
had lain untouched for a long time indeed--and his
father's glass, and the flunkey drank his spot," and really
seemed to enjoy it.
Ransey opened the door for him.
"Convey my best thanks to Miss Scwagley," he said,
"and inform her that we will be ree-joiced to receive
her, and that Miss Tansey and myself will not fail to
return the call at a future day. Good morning."
"RANSEY, FETCH JIM; WE'RE GOIN' ON." 53
Good mawning, I'm shuah."
And the elegant flunkey lifted his hat and bowed.
Ransey ran in, gave the leveret stew just a couple of
stirs to keep it from burning, then threw himself into
his father's chair, stretched out his legs, and laughed till
the very rafters rang.
"OH, NO I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY TILL WE IS BOF
THE day had looked showery, but the sun was now
shining very brightly, and so Ransey Tansey laid
dinner out of doors on the grass.
As far as curiosity went, Babs was quite on an equality
with her sex, and the meal finished, and the bones eaten
by Bob, she wanted to know at once what the man with
the pretty buttons had brought.
Ransey's eyes, as well as his sister's, were very large,
but they grew bigger when that big parcel was opened.
There was a note from Miss Scragley herself right on the
top, and this was worded as delicately, and with apparently
as much fear of giving offence, as if Ransey had been the
son of a real captain, instead of a canal bargee.
Why, here was a complete outfit: two suits of nice
brown serge for Ransey himself, stockings and light shoes,
to say nothing of real Baltic shirts, a neck-tie, and sailor's
"She's oceans too good to live, that lady is!" exclaimed
"OH, N/0 I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY 55
Me see !-me see I Babs wants pletty tlothes."
Yes, dear Babs, look There's pretty clothes."
That crimson frock would match Babs's rosy cheeks
and yellow curly hair "all to little bits," as Ransey ex-
After all the things had been admired over and over
again, they were refolded and put carefully away in father's
I think that the Admiral knew there was gladness in
the children's eyes, for he suddenly hopped high up the
hill, and did a dance that would have delighted the heart
of a Pawnee Indian.
"No," said Miss Scragley that same day after dinner, as
she and her friends sat out in the great veranda, "one
doesn't exactly know, Mr. Davies, how to benefit children
The parson placed the tips of his fingers together medi-
tatively, and looked down at Miss Scragley's beautiful
"Of course," he said, slowly and meditatively, "teach-
ing is essential to their bodily as well as to their spiritual
"Very prettily put, Mr. Davies," said Miss Scragley;
"don't you think so, Dr. Fairincks ?"
"Certainly, Miss Scragley, certainly; and I was just
wondering if they had been vaccinated. I'd get the little
one into a home, and the boy sent to a Board school And
the father-drinks rum, eh ?-get him into the house.
56 OH, NO/ I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY
Let him end his days there. What should you propose
Eh ? Humph Do what you like with the little one.
Send the boy to school-a school for a year or two where
he'll be flogged twice a day. Hardens 'em. So much for
the bodily welfare, parson. As to the spiritual, why, send
him to sea. Too young, Miss Scragley? Fiddlesticks I
Look at me. Ran away to sea at ten. In at the hawse-
hole, in a manner o' speaking. Just fed the dogs and the
ship's cat at first, and emptied the cook's slush-bucket.
Got buffeted about a bit, I can tell you. When I went
aft, steward's mate kicked me forward; when I got forward,
cook's mate kicked me aft. No place of quiet and com-
fort for me except swinging in the foretop with the purser's
monkey. But-it made a man of me. Look at me now,
Miss Scragley looked.
"Staff-commander of the Royal Navy. Three stripes.
Present arms from the sentries, and all that sort of thing.
And the bold mariner helped himself to another glass of
Miss Scragley's port.
"But you won't go to the wars again, Captain Weather-
eye ?" ventured Miss Scragley.
The Captain rounded on her at once-put his helm
hard up, so to speak, till he was bows on to his charming
His face was like a full moon rising red over the city's
TILL WE IS BOP DREADED "
"How do you know, madam? Not so very old, am I?
War, indeed I Humph --Ill be sorry when that's done,"
"What the war, Captain Weathereye ? said the lady.
"Fiddlesticks! No, madam, the port-if you will
"As for the father of these children," he continued, after
looking down a little, "if he's been a sailor, as you say,
the house won't hold him. As well expect an eagle to live
with the hens. Rum? Bah! I've drunk as much my-
self as would float the Majestic."
"But I say, you know," he presently remarked as he
took Eedie on his knee; "Little Sweetheart here and I
will run over to see the children to-morrow forenoon, and
we'll take the setter with us. Anything for a little excite-
ment, when one can't hunt or shoot. And we'll take you
as well, madam."
Miss Scragley said she would be delighted; at the same
time she could not help thinking the gallant captain's
sentences might have been better worded. He might have
put her before the setter, to say the least.
Next morning was a very busy one at Hangman's HalL
Ransey Tansey was up betimes, but he allowed Babs to
sleep on until he had lit the fire, hung on the kettle, and
run for the milk.
Ransey was only a boy, and boys will be boys, so he
could not help telling kind Mrs. Farrow, the farmer's wife,
of his luck, and how he expected real society people to
58 "0H NO/ I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY
visit himself and Babs that day, so he must run quickly
home to dress.
Certainly, dear," said Mrs. Farrow; "and here are some
lovely new-laid eggs. You brought me fish, you know;
and really I have so many eggs I don't know what to do
with them all Good-bye, Ransey. Of course you'll run
across and tell me all about it to-night, and bring Babs on
Babs was a "dooder dirl" than usual that morning, if
that were possible.
Ransey was so glad that the sun was shining; he was
sure now that the visit would be paid. But he had Babs to
wash and dress, and himself as well. When he had washed
Babs and combed her hair, he set her high up on the bank
to dry, as he phrased it, and gave her the new doll to play
with. Very pretty she looked, too, in that red frock of
Well, away went Ransey to the stream, carrying his
bundle. Bob was left to mind Babs.
Ransey was gone quite a long time, and the child grew
weary and sighed.
"Bob said Babs.
"Yes, Babs," said Bob, or seemed to say
"Tiss my new dolly."
Bob licked the doll's face. Then he licked Babs's hand.
"Master'll soon be back," he tried to tell her.
She was quiet for a time, singing low to her dolL
"Bob I" she said, solemnly now; "does 'oo fink [think]
'Ansey 'as fallen in and downed himself ?"
TILL WE IS BOF DEADED."
"Oh, look, look, Bob," she cried the next moment, "a
strange man toming here !"
Bob started up and barked most savagely. He was
quite prepared to lay down his life for his little charge.
But as he rushed forward he quickly changed his tune.
It was Ransey Tansey right enough, but so transformed
that it was no wonder that Babs and Bob took him for a
Even the Admiral must fly down from the gibbet-tree
and dance wildly round him. Murrams, the great tom-cat,
came out and purred aloud; and Babs clapped her tiny
hands and screamed with delight.
"'Oo's a gentleman now," she cried; "and I'se a lady.
Ransey didn't feel quite comfortable after all, especially
with shoes on. To go racing through the woods in such
a rig as this would be quite out of the question. The
only occupation that suggested itself at present was culling
wild flowers, and stringing them to put round Bob's neck.
But even gathering wild flowers grew irksome at last,
so Ransey got his New Testament, and turning to Revela-
tion, read lots of nice sensational bits therefrom.
Babs was not so well pleased as she might and ought to
have been; but when her brother pulled out "Jack the
Giant Killer," she set herself to listen at once, and there
were many parts she made Ransey read over and over
again, frequently interrupting with such questions as,-
"So Jack killed the big ziant, did he ? 'Oo's twite sure
o' zat ?"
6o "OH, NO! I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY
And ze axe was all tovered wi' blood and ziant's hair ?
My! how nice!"
"Six 'oung ladies, all stung up by ze hair o' zer heads ?
Boo'ful 'Oo's twite sure zer was six ?"
"An' the big ziant was doing' to kill zem all ? My! how
Ransey was just describing a tragedy more ghastly than
any he had yet read, when from the foot of the slope
came a stentorian hail:-
"Hangman's Hall, ahoy! Turn out the guard!"
The guard would have turned out in deadly earnest-
Bob, to wit-if Ransey hadn't ordered him to lie down.
Then, picking up Babs, he ran down the hill, heels first,
lest he should fall, to welcome his visitors
Miss Scragley was charmed at the change in the lad's
personal appearance, and Eedie frankly declared him to be
the prettiest boy she had ever seen.
Captain Weathereye hoisted Babs and called her a
beautiful little rogue. Then all sat down on the side of
the hill to talk, Babs being perfectly content, for the time
being, to sit on the captain's knee and play with his watch
"And now, my lad," said bold Weathereye, stand up and
let us have a look at you. Attention! That's right. So,
what would you like to be ? Because the lady here has a
heart just brimful of goodness, and if you were made of
the right stuff she would help you to get on. A sailor ?
That's right. The sea would make a man of you, lad. And
if you were in a heavy seaway, with your masts gone by
TILL WE IS BOF HEADED.'
the board, bothered if old Jack Weathereye wouldn't pay
out a hawser and give you a helping hand himself. For I
like the looks of you. Glad you paid the postman out.
Just what I'd have done myself. Ahem I"
Ransey felt rather shy, though, to be thus displayed as
it were. It was all owing to the new clothes, I think, and
especially to the shoes.
"Now, would you like to go to school ?"
"What! and leave Babs? No, capting, no. I'd hate
school anyhow; I'd fight the small boys, and bite the big
uns, and they'd soon turn me adrift."
"Bravo, boy! I never could endure school myself.-
What I say is this, Miss Scragley, teach a youngster to
read and write, with a trifle of 'rithmetick, and as he gets
older he'll choose all the knowledge himself, and tackle on
to it too, that's needed to guide his barque across the great
ocean of life. There's no good in schools, Miss Scragley,
that I know of, except that the flogging hardens them.-
Well, lad, you won't go to school? There! And if you'll
get your father to allow you to come up to the Grange,
just close by the village and rectory, I'll give you a lesson
myself, three times a week."
"Oh, thank you, sir! I'm sure father'll be pleased to
let me come when I'm at home and not at sea."
"Eh? at sea? Oh, yes, I know; you mean on the
barge, ha, ha, ha! Well, you'll live to face stormier seas
"An' father's comin' to-morrow, sir, and then we're
62 "OH, NO/ I'LL NEVER LEAVE 'ANSEY."
"He means along the canal," said Miss Scragley.
"To be sure, to be sure. What an old fool I am! And
now, lad, let me think what I was going to say. Oh, yes.
Don't those shoes pinch a bit ?"
"Never wears shoes and stockin's 'cept in winter, sir.
I keeps 'em in dad's locker till snow time."
"Now, in you go to your house or hut and take them
"Ha!" said Weathereye, when Ransey returned with
bare feet and ankles, that's ship-shape and Bristol fashion.
Now, lad, listen. If Miss Scragley here asks you to come
and see her-and I'm sure she will, for she's an elderly
lady, and likes to be amused"-Miss Scragley winced a
little, but Weathereye held on-" when you're invited to
the ancestral home of the Scragleys, then you can wear
them togs and your shoes; but when you come to the
Grange, it'll be in canvas bags, bare feet, a straw hat, and
a blue sweater-and my own village tailor shall rig you
out. Ahem !"
Captain Weathereye glanced at Miss Scragley as if he
owed her a grudge. The look might have been inter-
preted thus: "There are other people who can afford to be
as generous as you, and have a far better notion of a boy's
And now, Babs," he continued, kissing the child's little
brown hand, "I've got very fond of you all at once.
Will you come and live with me ?"
"Tome wiz 'oo and live I Oh, no," she replied, shaking
TILL WE IS BOF HEADED." 63
her yellow curls, "I'll never leave 'Ansey till we is bof
deaded. Never !"
And she slid off the captain's knee and flew to Ransey
with outstretched arms.
The boy knelt on one knee that she might reach his
neck. Then he lifted her up, and she looked defiantly back
at the captain, with her cheek pressed close to Ransey's.
Weathereye glanced towards Miss Scragley once again,
and his voice was a trifle husky when he spoke.
"Miss Scragley," he said, "old people like you and me
are apt to be faddy. We will both do something for these
poor children, but, bless them, there's a bond of union
betwixt their little hearts that we dare not sever. The
bairns must not be parted."
CHEE-TOW, THE RED CHIEF OF THE SLIT-NOSED INDIANS.
D URING the time the memorable visit lasted no one
took much notice of Ransey Tansey's pets. Yet
each one of the three of them was interested, and each
showed his interest in his own peculiar way.
The Admiral had flown gracefully down from the gibbet-
tree, and alighted on the ground not more than a dozen
yards from the group.
"Oraik-a-raik-a-r-r-r--a-cray--ay!" he said to
himself, which being interpreted seemed to signify, "What do
they want here, anyhow ? That's about the same gang I saw
in the woods. Curr-r-r! Well, they haven't guns anyhow,
like the beastly biped called a keeper, who tried to shoot
my hind-legs off because I was a strange bird. I was only
tasting some partridge's eggs, nothing else. Shouldn't I
have liked just to have gouged out his ugly eyes, thrown
'em one by one into the air, caught 'em coming down, and
swallowed 'em like eggs."
All the time the talking was going on the Admiral stood
twisting his body about, sometimes crouching low to the
ground, his neck stretched straight out towards them, the
head on one side and listening, the next moment erect as
a bear pole, and seeming to look surprised and angry at
what he heard them saying.
Bob had rushed to see about the setter. He lay down
at some distance off with his nose between his paws, and
the setter set, and finally sat.
Not a yard nearer, Mr. Sportsman, if you please," said
Bob; "I'm a rough 'un to look at, and a tough 'un to
tackle. I suppose you call yourself a gentleman's dog;
you live in marble halls, sleep on skins, and drink from a
silver saucer. I'm only a poor man's doggie; I sleep where
I can, eat what I can get, and drink from bucket or brook.
But I love my master maybe more than you love yours.
Yonder is my home, and yonder is our cat in the door of
it; but my humble home is my master's castle. Just try
to come a yard or two nearer, if you're tired of your silly
But Dash preferred to stay where he was
Murrams the cat behaved with the utmost dignity and
indifference. He sat in the doorway washing his face, with
dreamy, half-shut eyes. To have seen him you would have
said that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, so cool was he;
yet if Mr. Dash had come round that way, Murrams would
have mounted his back and never ceased clawing the dog
till he had ridden him half a mile at least from Hangman's
It wasn't, however, until the visitors had taken their
departure that the grand jubilee commenced.
"Th2ey're gone I" said Bob, running up and licking the
pussy's ear. That's a jolly good job I"
"T1ey're gone!" said pussy in reply, as he rubbed
shoulders with Bob.
"They're gone!" cried the crane, hopping madly round
the pair of them.
And as she nestled closer in her brother's arms, Babs
sighed and said just the same thing.
"Hurrah!" cried Ransey Tansey; "let's run off to the
Let's wun off to ze. woods at wance," echoed Babs.
Had little Eedie seen Ransey five minutes after this, I
question whether she would have pronounced him the
prettiest boy she had ever known.
Ransey was himself again, old shirt, ragged pants,
I think that the children and Bob, not to mention the
gallant Admiral, enjoyed themselves that afternoon in the
woods as much as ever they had done in their young
Babs insisted on taking her ragged old dolly-bone with
her, and leaving the new one at home upside down in
Well, Ransey fished for just an hour, but had glorious
luck and a good string to take to Mrs. Farrow. This was
enough, so he put away his rod, and read some more horrors
to Babs from "Nick o' the Woods." The torture scenes and
the scalping took her fancy more than anything else.
So Ransey Tansey invented a play on the spot that
would have brought down the house in a twopenny theatre
if properly put on the stage.
He, Ransey Tansey, was to be a wild Indian, Babs would
be the white man, Bob the bear, and the Admiral the spirit
of the wild woods and ghost of the haunted cafon.
The play passed off without a hitch. Only Ransey Tansey
himself required to dress for his part. This he did to per-
fection. He retired to a secluded spot by the river's bank
for the purpose. He divested himself of his pants and his
solitary suspender. These were but the evidences of an
effete civilization. What could such things as these have
to do with the red man of the wild West, the solitary
scalp-hunter.of the boundless prairie ? But a spear and a
tomahawk he must have, and these were quickly and easily
fashioned from the boughs of the neighboring trees. He
tied a piece of cord around his waist, and in this he stuck
his knife, open and ready for every emergency. He fuzzed
up his rebellious hair, and stuck rooks' feathers in it; he
thrust his feet into the darkest and grimiest of mud to
represent moccasins, and streaked his face with the same.
When enveloped in his blanket (the big shawl) he
stalked into the open in all the ghastliness of his war-
paint and said "Ugh I" He was Ransey Tansey no longer,
but Chee-tow, the Red Chief of the Slit-nosed Indians.
On beholding the warrior, Babs's first impulse was to
scream in terror; her next-and this she carried out-was
to roll on her back, her two legs pointing skywards, and
scream with laughter.
"Oh," she cried delightedly, "'oo is such a boo'ful walliol
[warrior]; be twick and tell somefing."
For the time being Babs was only the audience. When
she became an actor in this great forest drama she would
have to behave differently.
And now the red chief went prowling around, and pre-
sently out from a bush darted a grizzly bear.
The bear was Bob.
Chee-tow uttered his wildest war-cry, and rushed on-
wards to the charge.
The grizzly held his ground and scorned to fly.
"Then began the deadly conflict,
Hand to hand among the mountains;
From his eerie screamed the eagle [the crane]
......the great war-eagle,
Sat upon the crags around them,
Wheeling, flapped his wings above them.
Till the earth shook with the tumult
And confusion of the battle,
And the air was full of shootings,
And the thunder of the mountains
Starting, answered "Baim-wa-wa."
This fierce fight with the terrible grizzly was so realistic
that the audience sat silent and enthralled, with its thumb
in its mouth.
But it ended at last in the victory of the red chief.
The bear lay dead, and the first Act came to a close.
In Act II. an Indian maiden has been stolen, and borne
away by a white man across the boundless prairie to his
wigwam in the golden East. The red chief squats down
on the moss with drooping head to bewail the loss of his
daughter, during which outburst of grief his streaks of
war-paint get rather mixed; but that can't be helped.
Then the spirit of the wild woods appears to him-the
ghost of the haunted cation (that is, between you and
me, the Admiral comes hopping up with his neck stretched
out, wondering what it is all about)-and whispers to
him, and speaks in his ear, and says:-
"Listen to me, brave Chee-tow-wa,
Lie not there upon the meadow;
Stoop not down among the lilies,
Lest the west wind come and harm you.
Follow me across the prairie,
Follow me across the mountains,
I will find the maiden for you,
The maid with hair like sunshine,
Who has vanished from your sight."
So Chee-tow gets up, seizes his arms, and follows the
spirit, who goes hopping on in front of him in a very
weird-like manner indeed.
Meanwhile Babs, knowing her part, has hidden herself
in a bush, and in due time is led back in triumph as the
white man who stole the maiden. He is tied to a tree,
scalped, and tortured. Then a fire is lit, and thither the
white man is dragged towards it to be burned alive.
But another bear (Bob again) rushes in to his assistance
and enables him to escape.
The same fire built to burn the white man (Babs) is
being utilized to roast potatoes for supper; only this is a
And the play ends by the spirit of the wild woods
bringing the maiden back (Babs again) to the camp fire
in the forest, and-and by a supper of baked potatoes
Al's well that ends well. And shortly after the
denouement there may be seen, wending its way in the
calm summer gloaming up the little footpath that leads
through the green corn, the following procession. First,
Bob solemnly carrying the fishing-rod; then Ransey Tansey
with a string of red-finned fish in front of him, and Babs
on his back, wrapped in the Indian's blanket; and last, but
not least, the Admiral himself, nodding his head not unlike
a camel, and lifting his legs very high indeed, because the
dew was beginning to fall.
Babs had gone soundly to sleep by the time they reached
the farm, but she was lively enough a few minutes after
And Mrs. Farrow made them stay to supper, every one
of them, including even the Admiral, although he said
"Tok-tok-tok" several times, out of politeness, perhaps
when first invited in.
The kitchen at the farm was in reality a sitting-room,
and a very jolly, cosy one it was; nor did the fire seem a
bit out of place to-night.
It took Ransey quite a long time to tell all his adven-
tures, and dilate upon the kindness of his visitors, especially
rough but kindly Captain Weathereye.
S O. *
It was almost dark before they got to the little cot at
the foot of the hill that they called their home; and here
a fresh surprise awaited them, for a light was shining
through the little window, and through the half-open door
Babe herself was the first, I believe, to notice this.
"0 'Ansey," she cried, struggling with excitement on the
boy's back, "0 'Ansey, look! fazer [father] has tomed!
Be twick, 'Ansey, be twick."
And Ransey quickened his pace now, while Bob ran on
"Wowff, wowff," he barked, "wowff-wowff-wow!"
But it was in a half-hysterical kind of way, as if there
were a tear of joy mixed up with it, joy at the hope of
seeing a kind old master again.
Even the crane felt it his bounden duty to indulge in an
extra hop or two, and to shout, Scray-scray-scray-ay
It was the Admiral's voice that caused honest Tom Tandy
to get up from his chair, lay down his pipe, and hurry to
"Hill-11--o !" he shouted. "Here we all are, Ransey
Tansey, Babs, and Bob, and all. Why, this is a merry
meeting. Come, Babs. Hoist away, Ransey. Hee-hoy-ip!
and there she is safely landed in harbour. So you missed
your old father, little lass, did you? Bless it. But we're
all going on to-morrow, and the Mei-y Maiden has got a
new coat o' paint, and new furniture for the cuddy, and it's
no end of a jolly time we'll all have."
Yes, it was a merry meeting, and a right happy one.
I only wish that both Miss Scragley and Captain Weather-
eye had seen it..
"Why," the former would have said to herself, "this
good fellow could surely never have been a slave to the
Mr. Tandy had never really been a constant imbiber of
that soul-killing curse of our country-drink; but some
years gone by, like many another old sailor, he was liable
to slide into an occasional "bout," as it is called, and it
was with sorrow he thought of this now. But Miss Scrag-
ley and many others have yet to learn that it is often the
best-hearted and the brightest that fall most easily into
As for Weathereye, had he been a witness of this little
reunion, he too would have given his opinion about the
sturdy old sailor.
"Why!" he would have cried frankly to Mr. Tandy,*
"why, my good fellow, Miss Scragley, who is faddy and
elderly, and myself, old fool that I am at the best, were
considering what best we could do for your children. We
were to do all kinds of pretty things. The boy was going
to a school, the child to a home, and you-ha, ha, ha-
you, with your bold face and your sturdy frame, a man of
barely forty, were going to be sent to the house. Ha, ha,
no wonder I laugh. But tip us your flipper, Tandy, you're
a man every inch-a man and a sailor."
That is what Weathereye would have said had he seen
Tandy sitting there now.
They are right in saying that those whom animals and
children love are possessed of right good hearts of their
And here was this old sailor-the word "old" being
simply a term of endearment, for none but the sickly are
SPronounced Tansey only by the children.
old at forty, and they've been old all the time-sitting
erect in his chair, Babs on one knee, the great cat on the
other; Ransey on the hearth looking smilingly up at father's
bronzed face, silver-sprinkled hair and beard; the Admiral
standing on one leg behind the chair; and poor Bob asleep
before the fire, with his chin reposing on his old master's
It was a pretty picture.
Children," says Tandy at last," it is getting late, and-
just kneel down. I think well say a bit of a prayer
ON SILENT HIGHWAYS.
IT was early next morning when Ransey Tansey ran off
through the fields for a double allowance of milk.
"Double allowance to-day, Mrs. Farrow," he shouted.
"Oh, yes, father's come; and we're goin' on to-day. Isn't it
just too awfully jolly for anything ? "
"Well, I'm sorry to lose you and Babs."
"Back in a month, Mrs. Farrow. It'll soon pass, ye
know. But I-I am a kind o' sorry to leave you too, for
ye've been so good to Babs and Bob and me."
There was a tear in Ransey's eye as he took the milk-
can and prepared to depart.
"The Admiral can take care o' his little self," he
said, "but there's Murrams."
"Yes, dear boy, and our nipper shall go over every
morning, and put Murrams's bowl of milk in through the
"Oh, now I'm happy, just downright happy."
Well, off you run. Mind never to forget to say your
"No; and I'll pray for Murrams, for the Admiral, for
you, and all."
ON SILENT HIGH WA YS
He waved his hand now, and quickly disappeared.
The world wasn't a very wide one just yet to these poor
children, Ransey and Babs. It was chiefly made up of
that little cottage which went by the uncanny name of
Hangman's Hall, and of the carrying barge or canal-boat
yclept Ye Merry Maiden. But when at home, at the hut,
they had all the sweet, green, flowery fields around them,
the stream, and the wild woods. These formed the grand
seminary in which Ransey studied nature, and moreover,
studied it without knowing he was studying anything. To
him ebry creature, whether clad in fur or in feather, was
a friend. He knew all their little secrets, and they knew
that he knew them. Not a bird that sang was there that
he did not know by its eggs, its nest, or its notes; not a
rabbit, hare, vole, or field-mouse that he could not have
told you the life-story of. His was a
Knowledge never learned at schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild flowers' time and place;
Flight of fowl, and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell;
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground mole makes his well;
How the robin feeds her young;
How the oriel's nest is hung;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay;
And the architectural plans
Of grey hornet artisans."
It is true enough that this family was poor in the eyes
of the world. I am sure they were not ashamed of it, how-
ON SILENT HIGHWAY YS.
The poverty that goes hand in hand with honesty may
hold up its head before the Queen.
"Is there, for honest poverty,
That hangs his head, and a' that?
The coward slave, we pss him by;
We dare be poor for a' that I
For a' that, and a' that,
Our toils obscure, and a' that;
The rank is but the guinea stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that I"
So sang the immortal Robert Burns.
But could any boy, or girl either, be really poor who
had so many friends in field and forest, and by the winding
stream ? No; and such aone as this, who has been in touch
with nature in his or her early days, may grow up, grow
old, but never forget the days of youth, and never, never
lose faith in Heaven and a happy Beyond.
The cottage and the surrounding country, however, did
not constitute all the children's world. There was the
ship-as I have said-the barge that went to sea, and in
which they so often sailed.
For to them as yet the barge was a brig, and the canal
the ocean wide and wild. Well, I might on second thoughts
withdraw those wee wordies," wide and wild. The canal
was not a very wide one, nor was it ever very wild, in
summer time at all events.
Never mind, to the imagination of Ransey, Babs, and
Bob, the Merry Maiden was
"A gallant ship, with a crew as brave
As ever sailed the ocean wave."
The crew of the Merry Maiden, I may tell you at once,
*' a/intr~ slip, rt il'P ce a' brave
As cfr sailed the ost wi'.' '
ON SILENT HIGHWAYS.
was a very small one indeed, and consisted-all told, that
is-of the captain himself, who was likewise cook, boat-
swain, and bedmaker all combined; one sturdy, great boy
of sixteen, strong enough to lift almost any weight, Sammy
by name, who was first lieutenant, supercargo, and chief
engineer, and who often took his trick at the wheel-that
is, he took the tiller and relieved his captain, or mounted
Jim and relieved Ransey; Ransey himself, who was second
engineer-Jim, the stout old bay nag, being the engine
itself, the moving power when no fair wind was blowing;
and Bob, whose station was at the bows, and his duty to
keep a good look-out and hail those aft if any other ship
hove in sight or danger was near.
The Merry Maiden rejoiced in one mast, which had to be
cleverly lowered when a bridge had to be negotiated. The
sail was a fore-and-aft one, though very full at times.
Picturesquely reddish-brown it was, and looked so pretty
sometimes against the green of the trees that, as the craft
sailed slowly on in the sunshine, dreamy artists, seated
smoking at their out-door easels, often made the Merry
Maiden part and parcel of the landscape they were painting.
I think that Tandy himself liked being on board. The
barge was his own, and carrying light wares or parcels
from village to village, or town to town, his trade.
Things had gone backwards with Tandy as long as he
looked upon the rum when it was red; he had got into
debt. But now he was comfortable, jolly once more, because
his keel was clear, as he phrased it; and as he reclined to-
day on the top of the cuddy, or poop, with the tiller in his
ON SILENT HIGHWAYS
hand, Babs nestling near him, with the greenery of the
woods, the fields, and little round knolls floating dreamily
past him in the silvery haze of the sunshine, he looked a
picture of health, happiness, and contentment.
Ransey and Babs took their canal life very easily. They
never knew or cared where they were going to, nor
thought of what they might see. Even the boy's know-
ledge of the geography of his own country was very
He had some notion that his father's canal-he grandly
termed it so occasionally-was somewhere away down in
the midlands. And he was right. He hadn't learned to
box the compass, however; and even had he possessed the
knowledge, there wasn't a compass on board the Merry
Maiden to box or be boxed. Besides, the ship's head was
seldom a whole hour in any one particular direction. The
canal was a very winding one, its chief desire seeming to
be to visit all the villages it could reach without being
bothered with locks. These last were few and far be-
tween, because the country was rather a level one on the
Nevertheless the fact of their not knowing exactly where
they were going to, or what they would see next, lent an
additional charm to the children's canal life. It was like
the game children play on moonlight nights in Scotland.
This is a very simple one, but has a great fascination for
tiny dwellers in the country, and, besides, it gives excellent
scope for the imagination. One child blindfolds another,
and leads him here, there, and everywhere, without going
ON SILENT HIGHWAY YS
far away from home-round the stackyards, over the fields
by the edge of the woods, or across bridges, the blindfolded
wondering all the time where he is, but feeling as if he
were in fairyland, till at last his eyes are free, and he
finds himself-well, in ihe very last place he could have
dreamt of being.
There is no reason why canal life in England should not
be most pleasant, and canal people just as happy as was
the crew, all told, on board the Merry Maiden.
The saloon of the Maiden, as Tandy grandly called it,
was by no means very large. It was simply a dear little
morsel of a doll's-house, but the taste of the owner was
shown in many different ways. By day the beds were folded
up and were prettily draped with bright curtains. There
were a lounge, an easy chair, a swing-lamp, a beautiful brass
stove, and racks above and at both sides of it for plates
and mugs and clear, clean tin cooking utensils; there were
tiny cupboards and brackets and mirrors, and in almost
every corner stood vases of wild flowers, culled by Babs
and Ransey whenever they had a chance. And this was
often enough, for really Jim was so wise a horse that he
never required any urging to do his duty. He was never
known to make either break or stumble. But when sail
was on the ship, Jim had nothing to do except to walk
after her and look about him. Sometimes the oats or the
wheat grew close to the path, and then, although a very
honest horse, Jim never failed to treat himself to a pluck.
So he was as sleek and fat as any nag need be.
The weather was not always fine, of course, but on wet
ON SILENT HIGHWAYS.
days Babs could be sent below, with Bob to mind her, to play
with her picture-books, her lady doll, and her dolly-bone.
Ransey's father had made him discard now, for ever and
aye, his ragged garments, although the boy had not done
so without a sigh of regret-they were so free and easy.
His best clothes, presented by Miss Scragley, were stowed
away for high days and holidays, and the suit his father
bought him and brought him was simply neat and some-
Let us take a little cruise in the Merry Maiden. Shall
It will be a cruise in imagination certainly, but very
real for all that, because it is from the life.
It is very early, then, in the joyous month of June, and
the Merry Maiden is lying alongside a green bank. There
is no pier here. It is a country place. Yonder on the
right is a pretty little canal-side inn, the "Jolly Tapsters."
You can read its name on the sign that is swinging to and
fro beneath a wide-spreading elm-tree. Under this tree is
a seat, and a table also; and on fine evenings, after their
day's work is done, honest labourers, dressed in smocks,
who have been haymaking all day, come here to smoke
long clays, to talk to their neighbours, and now and then
beat the table with their pewters to ask for "another pint,
landlord, if you please."
Tandy lay in here last night and left a whole lot of
parcels and things at that cosy hostelry; for the country
all about is an agricultural one, beautifully wooded with
rolling hills, with many a smiling mansion peeping grey
ON SILENT HIGH WA YS
or red above the trees, and many a well-tilled farm. The
parcels will all be called for in due time.
The barge-master is up before even Ransey is stirring.
He has lit the fire and made ready for breakfast. Before
going on shore by the little gangway, he stirs Sammy up.
Sammy, the sixteen-year-old boy, has been sleeping among
the cargo with a morsel of tarpaulin for a blanket. He
rubs his eyes, and in a few seconds pulls himself up, and
begins, lazily enough, to sort and arrange the parcels and
make notes for the next stop in a small black book, with a
very thick pencil that he sticks in his mouth about once
every three seconds to make it write more easily.
"What a lovely morning!" thinks Tandy, and Bob, who
has come bounding after him, thinks so too. The sun is
already up, however. From every copse and plantation
comes the melody of birds. Flocks of rooks are flying
heavily and silently away to the distant river, where
among the reeds they will find plenty to eat Swimming
about in the canal yonder are half a score of beautiful
ducks. No, not wild; wild birds seldom build on a busy
canal side. They are the innkeeper's Rouens, and that
splendid drake is very proud indeed. He lifts himself
high out of the water and claps his wings in defiance as
Yonder is a lark lilting loudly and sweetly high above
the green corn. There are linnets and greenfinches in
the hedges, and warblers among the snow-white blossoms
of the may.
There is a wealth of wild flowers everywhere-blue-eyed
ON SILENT HIGHWAYS&
speedwells, the yellow celandine, the crimson of clover, the
ragged robin, and ox-eye daisies weeping dew.
So balmy is the air and fresh that the barge-master has
wandered further than he had intended. Hunger warns
him to beat a retreat. Canal people, like caravan folks,
have excellent appetites.
But here he is on board again. Ransey has already
cooked and laid the breakfast, dressed Babs, and folded up
the beds. With the ports all open the tiny saloon is sweet
"For what we are about to receive," the father begins,
and little Ransey's head is bent and Babs's hands are clasped
till grace is said.
Those eggs are fresh. The fish was caught but yester-
day. Butter and beautiful bread are always to be had
cheap all along the canal.
Sammy's breakfast and Bob's are duly handed up the
companion-way, and in half an hour after this the horse is
yoked, the landlord has wished them all good luck, and
they have gone on.
But the wind, though slight, is dead ahead for miles, and
Jim has a heavy drag. Jim doesn't mind that a bit. He
jingles his light harness, strains nobly to his work, and
jogs right merrily on.
Gradually the country wakens up to newness of life.
Smoke comes curling up from many a humble cottage;
cocks are crowing here and there; and busy workman-like
dogs are hurrying to and fro as they drive cattle or sheep
to distant pasture lands.
ON SILENT HIGHWAYS.
There are houses dotted about everywhere, some very
close to the canal side, from the doors of which half-dressed
children rush out to wave naked arms and "hooray" as
the barge goes slowly floating .past. To these Babs must
needs wave her wee hands and give back cheer for cheer.
Many of those cots, humble though they be, have the
neatest of gardens, with flowers already blooming in beds
and borders, in tubs and in boxes; neat little walks all sanded
and yellow; and strings along the walls, up which, when
summer is further advanced, climbers will find their way
and trail in their loveliness over porch and windows.
There are orchards behind many of these, the gnarled
trees snowed over with bloom, many clad in pink or crim-
son. All this brings to one's mind snatches from Mrs.
"The cottage homes of England,
By thousands on her plains,
They are smiling o'er the silvery brooks,
And round the hamlet-fanes.
Through glowing orchards forth they peep,
Each from its nook of leaves,
And fearless there the lowly sleep
As the bird beneath their eaves."
The sun climbs higher and higher, and the mists have
disappeared from the far-off hills, and now you can tell it
is school time.
Well-dressed children, in groups, are wending their way
all in one direction. But they find time to cull wild flowers
for teacher; and see, a bold, bright-faced lad comes near
to the edge of the canal. Perhaps he is charmed by the
innocent beauty of little Babs. Who can tell ? One thing
84 ON SILENT HIGHWAYS
we are sure of-he has learned a little French, and is proud
to air it.
"Bon voyage," he shouts.
And next moment a bonnie bunch of flowers falls right
into the child's lap.
Kiss your hand to him, dear," says father.
Babs smilingly does as she is told. No actress could do
so more naturally.
Then the boy runs off, looking happy, and the barge
"POOR MARY SHE HAS GONE ON."
T HE barge floats on, and soon the village appears in
sight. Yes, thoroughly English, and therefore
pretty: the old grey houses only half seen in the midst
of the foliage; the wreaths of blue smoke; the broad,
squat steeple; wooded hills behind, and amongst these
latter here and there a tall Elizabethan house sheltering
itself in a hollow, for wildly in winter do the winds
sweep through the leafless oaks and elms now clad in all
the glory of summer's green.
The canal makes a sweep just before it comes up to the
village, as if it had entertained some thoughts of going
past without calling. But it hasn't the heart to do so, and
presently the barge is close alongside a kind of wooden
platform which is dignified by the name of wharf.
Ransey dismounts to water his horse and slip on the
nose-bag. Then, while Sammy is busy with his note-book,
handing out cargo and taking fresh orders, he takes
delighted Babs and Bob on shore to look at the shops.
These visits to villages are much appreciated by her tiny
ladyship, but if the streets are steep Ransey Tansey must
take her on his back, and thus the two go on.
No fear of the "ship" leaving without them; and why,
here is father himself, his hands deep in the pockets of
his pilot jacket, and smoking.
A penny to Ransey and a halfpenny to Babs secure
them additional happiness; but in less than an hour the
anchor is weighed, and the Merry Maide is once more
The wind changes, or the canal, or something; anyhow
sail can now be set, and Jim thinks himself about the
happiest horse in all creation.
On and on through the quiet country, by the most silent
of all thoroughfares, goes the barge. Babs is getting
drowsy; father makes her a bed with a bundle of sacks,
shading her face from the sun; and soon she is in the land
Were it not for the breeze that blows freshly over the
meadows, the day would be a warm and drowsy one. No
fear of Sammy falling asleep, however, for as the canal
winds in and out he has to tighten or loosen the sheet
according to the shift.
Just at present the sounds that are wafted towards the
barge are all lulling and dreamy: the far-off singing of
birds; the sound of the woodman's axe in the distant
wood; the rattle of a cart or carriage on a road that is
nowhere visible; the jangle of church bells from a village
that may be in the sky for anything any one can tell; and
now the merry laughter of young inen and maidens
making hay, and these last come in sight just round the
next green bend.
It suddenly occurs to Jim that a dance wouldn't be at
all a bad idea. Ransey is some distance behind his horse,
when he sees him lower his head and fling his heels high
in air. This is merely preparatory; next minute he
is off at a gallop, making straight for that meadow of
fragrant hay, the wind catching mane and tail and blowing
it straight out fore and aft.
When tired of galloping round the field, Jim bears right
down upon the haymakers themselves.
"That stuff," he says, with distended nostrils, "smells
uncommonly nice. Give us a tuft."
He is fed handsomely by both lads and lasses gay. But
they get gayer than ever when Jim throws himself down
on his back, regardless of the confused entanglement of
bridle and traces. But Jim knows better than to roll on
the bare ground. He has thrown down a hay-cock for
himself, and it is as good as a play to witness the girls
bury him up till there is nothing to be seen of him except
his four legs kicking skywards.
He gets up at last, and looks very sober and solemn.
One girl kisses him on the muzzle; another is busy doing
something that Ransey cannot make out, but a minute or
two after this, when Jim comes thundering back, there is a
huge collar of hay around his neck. Ransey mounts him
bareback, and, waving his hand to the haymakers, goes
galloping off to overtake the barge, and throw the hay on
board. A nice little snack it will make for Jim some time
later on I
To-day Mr. Tandy has bought a newspaper. He had
meant to read it, but he is too fond of country sights and
sounds to bother about it now. In the evening, perhaps,
over a pipe.
On, ever on. There are locks to get through now,
several of them, and lockmen are seldom, if ever, more
than half awake; but everybody knows Tandy, and has a
kindly word to say to Ransey Tansey, and perhaps a kiss
to blow to Babs, who has just awakened, with eyes that
shine, and lips and cheeks as red as the dog-roses that
trail so sweetly over a hedge near by.
The country here is higher-a bit of Wales in the
midlands, one might almost say. And so it continues for
Sammy takes his trick at the wheel, and prefers to
steer by lying on his back and touching the tiller with
one bare foot. Sammy is always original and funny, and
now tells Babs wonderful stories about fairies and water-
babies that he met with a long time ago when he used to
dwell deep down beneath the sea.
Babs has never seen the real sea, except in pictures, and
is rather hazy about it. Nevertheless, Sammy's stories are
very wonderful, and doubtless very graphic. The sail is
lowered at last, and the saucy Merry Maiden moored to a
The dinner is served, and all hands, including Jim, do
justice to it.
I said the barge was "moored" here. Literal enough, for
a wide, wild moor stretches all around. Sheep are feeding
not far off, and some droll-looking ponies that Jim would
like to engage in conversation. There are patches of
heath also, and stunted but prettily-feathered larch-trees
now hung with points of crimson. Great patches of
golden gorse hug the ground and scent the air for yards
around. Linnets are singing there, and now and then the
eye is gladdened by the sight of a wood-lark. Sometimes
he runs along the ground, singing more sweetly even than his
brother musician who loves to soar as high as the clouds.
Here is a cock-robin, looking very independent and
lilting defiance at everybody. Robins do not always live
close to civilization. This robin comes close enough to
pick up the crumbs which Ransey throws towards him.
He wants Ransey to believe that all the country for miles
and miles around belongs to him-Cock Robin-and that
no bird save him has any real business here.
There are pine-trees waving on the hills yonder, and
down below, a town much bigger than any they yet have
But see, there is a storm coming up astern, so, speedily
now, the Merry Maiden is once more under way.
Babe is bundled down below, and Bob goes with her.
Presently the air is chilly enough to make one shiver.
A puff of high wind, a squall we may call it, brings up
an army of clouds and darkness Thunder rolls, and the
swift lightning flashes-red, bright, intense-then down
come the rain and the big white hailstones. These rattle
so loudly on the poop deck, and on the great tarpaulin
that covers the cargo, that for a time the thunder itself can
scarcely be heard.
But in twenty minutes' time the sun is once more
shining, the clouds have rolled far to leeward, the deck is
dry, and but for the pools of water that lie in the hollows
of the hard tarpaulin, no evidence is left that a summer
storm had been raging.
But away with the storm has gone the wind itself, and
Jim is once more called into requisition. Then onwards
floats the barge.
Through many a bridge and lock, past many a hamlet,
past woodlands and orchards, and fields of waving wheat,
stopping only now and then at a village, till at last, and
just as the sun is westering, the distant town is reached.
Oh, a most unsavoury sort of a place, a most objection-
able kind of a wharf, at which to pass a night.
Tandy sends Babs and Bob below again; for a language
is spoken here he does not wish the child to listen to,
sights may be seen he would not that her eyes should
dwell upon. Yonder is an ugly public-house with broken
windows in it, and a bloated-faced, bare-armed woman, the
landlady, standing with arms akimbo defiantly in the
doorway. Ah! there was a time when Tandy used to
spend hours in that very house. He shudders to think of
There is one dead tree at the gable of this inn, which
-half a century ago, perhaps-may have been a country
hostelry surrounded by meadows and hedges. That tree
would then be green, the air fresh and sweet around it, the
mavis singing in its leafy shade. Now the sky is lurid,
the air is tainted, and there is smoke everywhere. Not
even the bark is left on the ghastly tree. It looks as if it
had died of leprosy.
But the work is hurried through, and in a comparatively
short time the Merry Maiden is away out in the green
What a blessed change from the awful town they have
The sun has already gone down in such a glory of
crimson, bronze, and orange, as we in this country seldom
This soon fades away, however, as everything that is
beautiful to behold must fade.
The stars come out now in the east, and just as gloaming
is merging into night the boat draws near to a little canal-
side inn, and Jim, the horse, who is wiser far than many a
professed Christian, stops of his own accord.
For Ransey had gone to sleep-oh, he often rode thus and
never fell. He awakes now, however, with a start, and
gazes wonderingly around him. His eyes fall upon the
sign. And there, in large white letters, the boy can read
easily enough though the light is fading-the "Bargee's
And not only could he read, but he could remember:
it was here they lay that sad, sad night-what a long time
ago it seemed-when mother died.
Here was the landlord himself with his big apron on,
a burly fellow with a kindly face, and as Tandy stepped
on shore he was welcomed with a hearty handshake.
Ah I Cap'en Tandy, and 'ow's you. And here is Ransey
Tansey, bright and bobbish, and little Babs, and Bob, and
everybody. How nice you all look! But la!" he added,
"it do seem such a long, long time since you were here
"I've not had the heart to come much this way, Mr.
Shirley. I've been trading at the southern end o' the
"And ye've never been here once since you put up the
bit of marble slab to mark the spot where she lies ?"
Ransey knew his mother was referred to, and turned
aside to hide the tears.
Never since," says Tandy.
"Ah, cap'en, many's the one as asks me about that slab.
And the old squire himself stopped here one day and got
all the story from me. And when I'd finished, never a
word he said. He just heaved a biggish sort of a sigh,
and went trotting on.
"But come in, Ransey, Babs, and Bob, and all. The
night's going to be chilly, and an air of the fire will do
the children good.
"Sammy, just take the horse round to the stable.
We'll have a bit o' frost to-night, I thinks."
Ransey runs on board for a few minutes to touch up
the fire, put on the guard, and make down the beds; then
he joins the group around the cosy parlour fire.
The kindly landlady, as plump and rosy as her husband,
makes very much of the children, and the supper she
places before them is a right hearty one, nor is Bob himself
A very quiet and pleasant evening is spent, then good-
nights are said, and the seafaring folks, as they humorously
call themselves, go on board to bed.
Sammy is already sound asleep beneath the tarpaulin,
and Ransey takes his little sister below to bed at once.
But father stops on deck a little while, to think and
How still the night is 1 Not a breath of wind now;
not a sound save the distant melancholy hooting of an
owl as he flies low across the fields, the champ-champing
of the horse in the stable, and an occasional plash in the
canal as some great frog leaps off the bank.
But high above shine God's holy stars. There may be
melancholy in the old sailor's heart as he gazes skywards,
but there is hope as well, for these little points of dazzling
light bear his thoughts away to better worlds than this.
It is early morning again, and soon the barge is well on
But when it is stopped in the middle of a somewhat
lonesome moor, and Tandy takes his children on shore, the
boy knows right well where they are going, though innocent
little Babs doesn't.
"Father," he says presently, as they are near to a
clump of tall trees, "isn't it just here where mother was
The rough weather-beaten old sailor uncovers his
He points to a spot of the canal that is gleaming bright
in the rays of the morning sun.
"Just down there, dear boy," he says. The coffin was
leaded; it could never rise."
The last words are spoken apparently to himself, as he
turns sadly away towards the trees.
Still holding Ransey's hand, and with Babs in his arms,
he points to the tallest, strongest tree of all. It is a
And there, about eight feet from the ground, and
evidently let deeply into the tree, is a small and lettered
slab of marble.
The bark has begun to curl in a rough lip over its edge
all round as if to hold it more firmly in its place.
SHE HAS GONE ON.
Feby. 19th -82.
The letters were not over-well formed. Perhaps they
were cut by Tandy's own hand. What mattered it ? The
little tablet was meant but for his eyes. Simplicity is best.
"Poor Mary! She has gone on."
And the words are written not only there upon the
marble, but upon the honest sailor's heart.
END OF BOOK I.
ALL SAIL FOR THE ISLAND OF GOLD.
Once more upon the waters I yet once more I
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
That knows its rider. Welcome to their roar!
Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'er it lead I
Though the strained mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvas, fluttering, strew the gale,
Still must I on."