“For shame, Tom,” said his more patient sister, “you know what mother means? Suppose you should fall overboard!”
“I should be downright glad, I can tell you! I’d have a good swim before they pulled me out,—aye, and a ride on one of those broad-backed black gentlemen tumbling about yonder!”
“Oh, Tom!” sighed the gentle little girl, quite shocked at her brother’s bold words, and she turned from him to watch for her father. To her great content, his head presently appeared above the hatchway.
“You look very dull, Tom,” said he as he joined them; “what are you thinking of?”
“Why, father,” replied Tom, “I don’t want to be standing about, holding on always, like a baby. I wish mother wouldn’t be so afraid of me. She won’t let me run up the rigging, or do anything I like.”
“You mean she will not let you break your neck, foolish boy. You know well, Tom, your mother refuses you no reasonable amusement. Hey, look there!” As Mr. Lee spoke, a dozen or so of flying fishes rose from the sea, and fell again within a yard of the ship’s side. As the sun shone on their wet glittering scales, you might have fancied them the broken bits of a rainbow. Annie clapped her hands and screamed with delight, and even Tom’s sulky face brightened.
“Why, father,” cried he, “I never knew before that there were fishes with wings!”
“These have not exactly wings, though they resemble them,” answered Mr. Lee, “but long fins, with which they raise themselves from the water, when too closely pursued by their enemies. But I came to call you to dinner—your mother is waiting. Should it be pleasant to-night, we will bring her on deck, when George and Willie are in bed, and show her the sights.”
“What sights, what sights?” cried both the children at once, but their father was already on the ladder, and did not reply.
The night was mild and clear, and the bright full moon shone high in the heavens, when the little Lees came up again with their father and mother. Tom was no longer the discontented grumbling boy he seemed in the morning, for though he often spoke thoughtlessly, and murmured sometimes at his parents’ commands, he knew in his heart that all they wished was for his good, and soon returned to his duty, and recovered his temper. He was just turned twelve, and considered himself the man of the family in his father’s absence, often frightening poor Annie, who was a year younger, and of a quiet, timid disposition, by his declarations of what he “wouldn’t mind doing.” Little George, who was seven, admired and respected him exceedingly.
“I promised to show you some sights, this evening,” said Mr. Lee, as they walked slowly up and down the deck, “and is not this ship bounding over the heaving ocean, with its white sails spread, and its tall masts bending to the wind, a most striking one? Is it not a great specimen of man’s skill and power? And look above at that starry sky, and that bright lamp of night which shines so softly down on us,—look at the dashing waters, whose white crested waves sparkle as they break against our vessel—are they not wonderful in their beauty?”