Ben Burton Born and Bred at Sea

Juvenile Fiction/
#General #Juvenile Fiction
rating 0 (votes: 0)

Book's description:

Excerpt “Dick Burton, you’re a daddy! Polly’s been and got a baby for you, old boy!” exclaimed several voices, as the said Dick mounted the side of the old “Boreas,” on the books of which ship he was rated as a quarter-master, he having just then returned from a pleasant little cutting-out expedition, where he had obtained, besides honour and glory, a gash on the cheek, a bullet through the shoulder, and a prong from a pike in the side. “Me a what?” he inquired, bending his head forward with a look of incredulity, and mechanically hitching up his trousers. “Me a daddy? On course it’s a boy? Polly wouldn’t go for to get a girl, a poor little helpless girl, out in these outlandish parts.” “On course, Dick, it’s a boy, a fine big, walloping younker, too. Why bless ye, Quacko ain’t no way to be compared to him, especially when he sings out, which he can do already, loud enough to drown the bo’sun’s whistle, let me tell you,” was the reply to Dick Burton’s last question. That baby was me. Quacko was the monkey of the ship. I might not have been flattered at being compared to him, though it must be owned that I stood very much in the light of his rival. I soon, however, cut him out completely. My mother was one of two women on board. The other was Susan King, wife of another quarter-master. The two men enjoyed a privilege denied to their captain, for they could take their wives to sea, which he could not. To be sure, Polly and Susan made themselves more generally useful than the captain’s wife would probably have done had she lived on board, for they washed and mended the men’s shirts, nursed them when sick or wounded, prepared lint and bandages for the surgeons, and performed many other offices such as generally fall to the lot of female hands. They had both endeared themselves to the men, by a thousand kind and gentle acts, but my mother was decidedly the favourite. This might have been because she was young and remarkably handsome, and at the same time as good and modest as a woman could be; and so discreet that she was never known to cause a quarrel among her shipmates, or a pang of jealousy to her husband; and that, under the circumstances of the case, is saying a great deal in her favour. Fancy two women among nearly four hundred men, and not one of the latter even thinking of infringing the last commandment of the Decalogue. What an amount of good sense, good-temper, and self-command must have been exercised on the part of the former. Susan’s qualifications for the position she held were very different to those of my mother. In appearance she was a very Gorgon, a veritable strong-minded, double-fisted female, tall, gaunt, and coarse-featured. A hoarse laugh, and a voice which vied with the boatswain’s in stentorian powers, and yet withal she was a true woman, with a gentle, loving, tender heart. Bill King, her husband, knew her good qualities, and vowed that he would not swap her for Queen Charlotte, or any other lady in the land, not if the offer was made to him with a thousand gold guineas into the bargain. I ought to be grateful to her, and do cherish her memory with affection, for she assisted to bring me into the world; attended my mother in her time of trial and trouble, and nursed me with the gentlest care. Yet Sue had a tongue, and could use it too when occasion, in her judgment, required its employment. But she always took the side of right and virtue against wrong and vice, and woe betided the luckless wight who fell under the ban of her just displeasure....
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