Jack was always glad to see me, and glad to tell me stories. I was always glad to hear his stories. Some sailors, who have spent a great deal of time on board of a ship, and have seen a great many places, are not good men. They do not always tell the truth. So, when they tell stories about what they saw where they went, we do not know whether to believe them or not. But Jack Mason was a good man, and I knew he would not tell me what was not true.
Shall I tell you some of the stories that this good old sailor told me when he had to stay at home, because he had broken his hip? I think I can remember some worth telling again.
“O yes, Mr. Thinker, tell us all the stories the old sailor told you.”
“No, I cannot do that. I cannot remember them all.”
“Well, tell us all you do remember.”
“I will see about it. I will tell you some of them, at any rate. Let me see, what story shall I tell first? Shall I tell you his story about what he saw once, when he sailed a great way north? I guess I will.”
If you should go a great way north, you would find it very cold. The further you go north, the colder it is. I went so far that way one time, that I got almost frozen. The ship I sailed in came close to an iceberg once, and we all thought for a while that the ship would strike the iceberg. If it had struck, it would have been broken all in pieces, and we should have been drowned or frozen, every one of us. God was kind and good to us, though. The wind was blowing very hard, and right toward the iceberg. But just as we had got almost up to it, the wind changed, and blew us away from it.
But I forgot that you do not know what an iceberg is. It is a great hill of ice. In the North Sea, these ice-hills are often as high as your church, and sometimes a great deal higher. These hills of ice are floating along the water there, and when it is foggy or dark, the sailors cannot always see them. So sometimes the ship strikes them, and is dashed to pieces. Sometimes it gets between two of these ice-hills, and gets crushed, as if it was a little boat. Then the men in the ship have to get out, and jump upon one of the ice-hills. But they are pretty likely to be frozen to death then.
[Illustration: The Indians.]
In that cold country I saw some Indians. They were dressed in skins. I never saw such dirty-looking men and women before in all my life, and I have never seen any such since. They had never seen a ship before, I should think. I thought they did not know much more than the white bears. Why, they would sell almost all the clothes they had on, if we would give them a few pieces of glass, or a nail or two. One of the women who came to the ship had a little girl about four years old, and she said she would give us that girl, if we would let her have a tin pan which she saw.